I read a broad range of fiction, but Sci Fi is one of my favorite genres. When Michael G. Munz offered to give me an advanced copy of the latest in his New Aeneid Cycle trilogy, I said, "Hell, yes." I loved the first two, so of course I wanted to get my grubby little hands on the third. The concept is interesting, I love the characters, and he does a great job writing well rounded female characters in leadership positions. A Dragon at the Gate has officially launched. Go get your copies here. Added bonus: He has a great sale running.
Here's the blurb:
Artificial intelligence, aliens, and nanotech collide in this cyberpunk adventure...
Michael Flynn has lost time. An operative in the worldwide conspiracy known as the Agents of Aeneas, the last thing he remembers is the struggle to retake Paragon—the derelict alien spacecraft found crashed on the Moon. Yet that was three months ago. Now, as he wakes in a hospital back in the high-tech, urban strife of Northgate, his struggle begins anew.
The Agents of Aeneas have vanished.
His friends are either missing, in danger, or altered. Hired killers shadow his every move. And Jade, the mysterious, cyber-enhanced woman watching over him, will give no answers. Thrust into a blind search for the truth, Michael needs allies. Yet whom can he trust when once loyal friends may have turned against him?
Meanwhile, an intelligence thought trapped within Paragon has escaped to Northgate. Driven to fulfill the goals of the mysterious “Planners,” it, too, seeks allies. When it finds them, it will transform the face of Northgate, the world, and the entire human race.
The year 2051 draws to a close, and nothing will be the same.
Camela Thompson's Review (4 of 5 Stars):
The third book in The New Aeneid Cycle did not disappoint! Book two ended on a bit of a cliff hanger, and I was looking forward to seeing how the author navigated book three. I really enjoyed the newest featured character--Jade--muscle for hire with a bit of a conscience. Munz does a very good job of not only writing women but putting them in leadership roles and allowing them to shine on their own (which seems like an odd thing to say, but there are so many books out there that fail in this regard). Munz is a very talented writer and I appreciated so many points where the description offered was beautifully done. I would recommend reading the books in order. And I seriously want to visit that plant themed nightclub (it sounds odd but trust me, it works).
My husband and I like to live tweet bad horror with Michael G. Munz. On occasion we find a campy gem hiding behind low ratings. The three of us tried to watch Shark Exorcist this past weekend. Michael and I were done after fifteen minutes. Lance, my husband, doesn't give up on anything. Ever. The next day he watched the whole thing through just to see how bad it would get. From what I hear, it got pretty bad.
Camela: Thanks for guest blogging today, Lance! What was it about Shark Exorcist that made it so bad?
Lance: At the beginning of the movie, the acting was pretty terrible. This was followed up by the story itself having zero structure and random scenes that didn't really help or improve the theme.
To touch more on the acting, it was shocking how bad it was. Most of the shows we see were at least somewhat casted to find people who actually have some skill or promise in this area. In this case, it shows what would happen if you grabbed a bunch of people off the street or your friends and had them make a movie for fun. Also, it wasn't just one or two actor/actresses, it was all of them.
Camela: Tell me more about the story having "zero structure." Can you give an example of a random scene and why it didn't work?
Lance: Towards the end of the movie, a new character is shown going to a park, and being followed by a random creepy dude. She strips to a bikini and starts tanning, and then falls asleep. (As a side note on the low budget theme of the movie, it was cloudy the day they shot. This cracked me up). Anyway, the creepy dude then takes her phone and takes several close up pictures of her while she is sleeping, then spends several more minutes still standing there looking at the pictures he took.
She wakes up only to be stabbed by someone else, and random creepy dude has no other part in the film.
Camela: We talked about the terrible acting and the random scenes. You mentioned it was low budget. Can you give some examples of areas they might have improved despite the low budget?
Lance: They could have tried. I know it sounds mean, but they didn't do basic things they teach you if you're writing a paper in elementary school, or used basic common sense. What I mean by that is that they should have hired an editor to look through the story and notice scenes that didn't matter or were not needed. There is a reason that even the best authors have someone else look through their work.
Also, I mentioned the scene where they were someone was tanning when it wasn't sunny, but an even worse scene happened at the fair. They alternated back and forth between using shots they had filmed during the day and night, which made it very confusing to determine how much time had gone by. It was supposed to be just a few minutes, but if you went by how often they switched from day to night, it was several days.
Also, early in the movie, "Aly" was seriously injured from a bite with a shark. However, the special effects crew just threw a tiny amount of blood on her leg and called it good. It looked more like she had walked to close to a rose bush in shorts than was bitten by a shark.
Camela: It's funny to see you mention being mean. Everyone who knows us knows that you're WAY nicer than I am. On that note, I do feel a little bad sometimes when we live tweet and end up hating the movie. Sometimes actors, directors, and writers tweet back, and it makes me cringe a little.
How did you not give up? You consistently see things through that I just... At a certain point it seems like a waste of life. How do you do it?
Lance: Maybe that's why they kept throwing so many random scenes in, but I just wanted to see where the disaster was going to end up. Would they make a story that would go somewhere? It actually almost did. Would they find even more terrible actors? Would they bring back the actor of the guy who died back as someone else yet again? So many (well, three) questions were left unanswered!
Even after it ended, they had a scene that went way past the credits. I had to fast forward to see if they were going to throw in a twist. It should have been a twenty second scene, but it went for five to ten minutes. This part was so painful that it did require the fast forward feature to get through it.
Camela: I'm starting to wonder why we do this live tweeting thing... On to happier things. Do you have a favorite horror movie (counting highly rated movies we watched on purpose)? Have you found a horror movie you like doing this live tweet thing?
Lance: The Man Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon was excellent, and cracked me up the way it parodies the entire genre, but Tucker and Dale vs Evil ranks above that as my favorite. It's almost more of a comedy. While growing up, Nightmare on Elm Street was the best and scariest at the time.
I think my favorite movie to live tweet was Zombeavers. It was ridiculous, but fun.
Camela: Ugh. Zombeavers. Well, thanks for stopping by! Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Lance: I think that covers it. Thank you very much for having me as a guest on your excellent blog. :)
Camela: Aw. As my husband you kind of have to say that, but I'll take it!
by Camela Thompson
The previews for Crimson Peak more than intrigued me, but I didn't allow myself to get excited. After reading the first two books in The Strain series and a few online transcripts from interviews, del Toro struck me as a misogynist. Sure, you could point at Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy II, but it wasn't enough to make up for the flimsy female characters in The Strain. The television show was trending better, something I attributed to a more diverse team of writers, but they stepped way over the line when Dutch was captured and tortured in "Dead End." Without revealing spoilers, it was a gratuitous maneuver that had no point other than shock value.
My friends assured me that del Toro had a solid history of strong female characters. I could match them point for point. But that trailer spoke to me. The gothic flare, the creepy vibe, and the actors. If nothing else would get me in that theater, Charlie Hunnam (aka Jax Teller), Tom Hiddleston (aka Loki), Mia Wasikowska (aka Alice), and Jim Beaver (aka Bobby Singer) were enough incentive. And just look at the set:
I loved it. So much I watched it twice. In a single weekend.
What I loved.
The casting was tremendous. Every actor carried their part with an effortless air. Tom Hiddleston has a naturally sinister look to him, which was perfect to cast suspicion in the (slightly) wrong direction. He's also capable of expressions of innocence sufficient to cast doubt. Enough that I didn't despise his character, which would have been so easy given the twisted upbringing and subsequent complacency in his sister's reign.
The tension between Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain was delicious. From their first interaction, I seized on the House of Usher vibe. I wasn't at all surprised by the torrid relationship between the siblings, but I was thrilled by Chastain's ability to move from cold void to explosive fury.
It's no secret I have a thing for Charlie Hunnam. Not only is he solidly attractive, but the man can act. His ability to tap into some well of emotion both concerns and awes me. The best aspect of his part in this movie? He doesn't save the girl. Edith is allowed to persevere and pull from a place of mental and physical strength to face her tormentor. Even better? He values and respects her. That's what I call the total package.
Not only did we have a strong female protagonist who was **gasp** valued for her stubborn streak and intellect by the men who loved her. We also see a female antagonist. Which was awesome!! Lucille Sharpe was both physically strong and mentally cunning. It's frequent that women get cast into the role of passive poisoner. Lucille's physical violence rivaled any man. In fact, she held her own against them more than once.
The sets were gorgeous. The physics involved in Allerdale Hall are impossible, but the building is as gorgeous as it is ghastly. The red seeping through the floor and running down the walls was too appropriate to fault. Even the bedroom for ten-year-old Edith impresses. The wallpaper bleeds into the shadowed lines of her mother. The shadows. The cinematography was jaw-dropping.
My very favorite part of the movie involved Edith's writing. She was encouraged to focus more on romance, which was in line with her feminine mind. My husband turned to me and said, "Some things never change." She even considered typing her story to hide her handwriting. That reminds me of considering a pen name....
del Toro. You won me over. This was one kickass movie that celebrated each character as a person.
What didn't work so well.
How did Dr. McMichael get to England so quickly?
The dog was a nice nod to a prior "wife" and the cruelty displayed to it does establish character, but I'm so tired of the dog getting killed off. I could devote an entire post to my rage around this topic.
How exactly did Edith run around on a broken leg? Unless Dr McMichael embellished her injury or it was knocked out of joint (even then, I'm not sure the adrenalin would push her past the pain), this was very odd.
Edith was agonizingly dense about Crimson Peak. Sir Thomas was mining red clay for pigeon's sake. (Note from Camela's husband: "I didn't have an issue with her not recognizing she was already at Crimson Peak since there was not a peak, mountain top, hill, or any elevation gain to speak of at all. It did start off slow, though.")
There were some other minor issues, but I even thought the gore was well executed and appropriate. Overall I would give this movie a solid A.
Have you seen it? What did you think?
by Camela Thompson
I was thirteen when Jurassic Park came out and it blew my mind. The dinosaurs were terrifying and lifelike. When I saw the previews for Jurassic World, I jumped at the chance to go with my friends. I wanted to bask in the nostalgic glow of raptors eating people. The premise was a little absurd--who would open a theme park after the first attempt failed on every level--but I was willing to overlook a lot in terms of logic and science. What I wasn’t expecting were the frustrating writing choices for the female lead in the movie. I couldn’t help the disappointment I felt as I walked out of the theater.
When I first drafted this post, the frustration sang through. I articulated this in a conversation with my brother and was presented with an opportunity to approach this piece a different way. My brother was immediately irritated with my impassioned plea for change and viewed it as a fringe opinion because of my tone. His eye rolling demonstrated my need to take the emotion out of the argument and frame a logical critique with suggestions for improvement. Challenge accepted, bro.
The hiring process for the chief position in a park that houses dangerous dinosaurs would involve an evaluation of risk management capabilities. This is especially true when the first park failed epically and a subsequent attempt on the mainland also failed. Someone as interested in park statistics as Claire would also understand how long it would take to get so many guests to comply with initial safety protocol. Poor attitudes and compliance were realistically illustrated when the relocation was finally ordered. Where I take an issue with the writing is that Claire didn’t even argue with the man who hired her to run the park. If she had insisted on initiating safety protocol, she would have realistically represented the position she had been hired to do, and there still would have been more than adequate time for carnage. No gore or film time would be compromised.
A stereotype illustrated repeatedly for female executives is the barren ice queen: A woman who foregoes nurturing a family in order to climb the corporate ladder and embrace her inner control freak. Claire was no exception and the trope was embraced with enthusiasm. She didn’t know her nephews’ ages, delegated the responsibility of watching them to an assistant with zero qualifications, and printed up an itinerary for a date with the rebellious alpha dino-wrangler. Even when she was presented with a field of slain herbivores, her last articulated thought was concern for her nephews. There is nothing wrong with electing to not have children (it’s the decision I made), and we’re still human. A reasonable response would be check-ins with the kids at the hint of an issue, and a level of elevated concern once she discovers the nephews are missing and the ultimate predator is killing for sport. Just because we don’t have children doesn’t mean we don’t love our family.
As an executive, it is imperative to learn how to effectively delegate. A successful business leader knows their weaknesses and how to balance them out with strong employees. Since Claire is running a multi-billion dollar operation, I will make the leap that she was successful prior to being hired. Arguing with the behavioral expert because of personal friction during a major emergency was grating. Instead of yelling everything short of, “You’re not the boss of me!” have Claire display frustration at her inability to fix the situation. It’s potentially amusing, but the motivation is a function of the situation and not her inability to defer to an expert. Also, sexual tension was understandable, but pausing to make out during a pterodactyl attack was asinine.
The final point I will harp on is minor next to the others, but I found it grating because it was easily avoidable. Especially in a city like Seattle with a lot of hills, women tend to wear functional shoes and switch them out at the office. Even those of us who drive usually wear flats and switch to heels in the parking lot. In New York, where people are more fashion forward, women carry their heels in their bags and wear cute flats on public transit. A woman who has spent considerable time running a park and walking on heavy gravel would have functional shoes instead of risking ankle fractures. Cars and bags would be a great place to store these flats. I will admit I was impressed by how fast she ran in the heels. I wouldn’t have thought it possible.
I wanted to love this movie. There were a lot of things I enjoyed. The dinosaurs (!!!), the youngest brother’s enthusiasm, and Jake Johnson’s character was wonderful among other things. Please don’t misinterpret the critique of the writing as criticism of the acting. Bryce Dallas Howard did a great job with what she was given. It wasn’t just Claire I took issue with--tropes were relied upon with multiple male characters.
If I could change one thing, I would ask that the writers spend time developing depth in their main characters. As it was, the impression was that the writers believed the audience needed nothing more than special effects. Intelligent decisions are more complicated to execute, but that extra attention may have made the movie something really special.
by Camela Thompson
I mentioned a while back that some friends and I have been live tweeting horror movies. We choose them primarily by title or poster art, definitely not by the ratings others give them. I've been known to love a two-star movie and hate a five-star, so taking a risk is okay even if it doesn't normally pay off. Remember, even the worst movies have writing lessons. Lately we've been wading in the depths of the horror-comedy. I either love these movies or hate them, and there's a fine line dividing the two.
Premise: Vampiric, water-dwelling monsters fall to Earth with the aim to suck the world dry. After discovering only near-pickled alcoholics are toxic to the monsters, the understaffed and overwhelmed cops on a tiny Irish island stage a drink-in at the pub to save the locals' lives.
What worked: The transition from serious horror flick to comedy occurred early enough to know that it was intentional. Solid CGI didn't hurt. The acting was well executed, the dialogue spot on, and the ridiculous antics were balanced out by a surprising amount of logic. For once it made sense for the humans to make idiotic decisions. They were wasted! Even an asinine shot with a full moon during a rainstorm was worth the contradiction because of the clear association with E.T.
What didn't work: There wasn't much that didn't work about the movie. Most of the frustrating character decisions were explainable. I will say both main Gardas came off as unlikable initially, but somehow it worked in the movie's favor.
Rating: 4.5 stars. Loved it.
Premise: A worthless, alcoholic cop with daddy issues is transformed into a werewolf and becomes better at his job.
What worked: References to werewolf mythology were sprinkled throughout this surprisingly intelligent movie. Gratuitous nudity struck early, and every trope was hit, but there were enough interesting bits to keep us entertained. I laughed really hard during a squirm inducing tryst because it highlighted major issues romance writers tend to skirt around. After seeing that scene, avoiding the transformed werewolf love scene altogether is definitely the way to go.
What didn't work: The acting was a little tedious at times, particularly between Jesse and Tina. I'm not sure if this is a problem with the acting or the written dialogue. Either way, it was strained. The makeup wasn't great. If you can't switch off the part of your brain that needs high quality CGI and are easily offended, don't even try to watch it. The first time I turned it on, I wasn't in a good mindset and was immediately frustrated by the crappy cop trope.
Rating: 3 stars.
Premise: Toxic waste is spilled near a beaver damn just as three hot girls and an adorable dog reach their vacation cabin.
What worked: The title alone hinted that this could be something so ridiculous it works. Think Sharknado. Think Tarantula. Think Big Ass Spiders. Only don't think those things because you'll only be disappointed by frustrating characters. The psycho zombie puppets were so bad they were hilarious, and the human transformation was funny enough to work.
What didn't work: The minute a dog came onto the scene, I knew I would be ticked off. They delivered. The three of us live tweeting were so frustrated by the characters that we were rooting for them to die. Everyone was generally despicable and self-serving.
Rating: 1 Star
Cockneys vs. Zombies
Premise: Two bumbling grandsons team up with their cousin, a genuine gangster with a steel plate in his head, and an incompetent thief for a bank heist in the name of saving their grandfather's nursing home. Too bad it's in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. How will they save grandpa?
What worked: This movie was so over the top it worked. The characters had backstories and the main characters were very likable. There was a lot going on, but it helped rather than hindered. This movie has one of the most epic Zombie chase scenes ever.
What didn't work: Some of the elements were so over the top they were a little distracting. Romance in the middle of a biological purge bothers me. The connection between a robber and a bank teller just didn't quite work for me.
Rating: 3.5 stars. If you liked The World's End or Shaun of the Dead, you'll like this movie.
What do you think of the horror comedy combination? Do you have examples that did or did not work for you?
by Camela Thompson
I'm not a horror expert. I didn't go to school for cinematography or screen play writing. When I watch horror movies, I base my assessment first and foremost on how I feel while watching the movie. No matter how masterful the dialogue or beautiful the cinematography, if my gut says no thanks, I can't gush about it. Even if it's critically acclaimed and people I respect rave about it. I've listened to The Last Knock podcast on the topic, and I highly recommend the episode, but I still can't jump into The Babadook fan club. I appreciated their points and agreed with many of them. I'm still baffled by the 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
**Spoiler Alert** I would recommend watching the movie and judging for yourself before going forward. I have several spoilers in the following content.
A single mother with a difficult son struggles with making ends meet and the shadow cast by her deceased husband. Things go from horrible to worse when a strange book is opened and read, unleashing a monster in their home.
What Worked for Me
The cinematography is beautiful and the dialogue fantastic. The characters are limited in number but strong in showing. The mother was someone I could sympathize with, and I loved the elderly neighbor. The movie kept me guessing until the end. I wasn't sure whether I was looking at a rift on The Others or a haunting or something new. The raw and unflattering picture it offered of motherhood was refreshing. The pace was well done and the music was great. These are all great things. It should be enough, right?
What Didn't Work for Me
Let me start this out with the admission that I have the maternal instincts of a log. I thought the neighbor's squalling infant was an injured cat and searched for said cat for two weeks. My husband still thinks this is hysterical.
The kid was one of the most frightening creatures I've seen in a while, and I don't mean this in a he was scary kind of way. I mean annoying to the point of pressing pillows to my ears to drown out the sound of his screech. He was loud, demanding, and mentally unstable. Screaming tantrums. Constructing weapons and pushing children out of tree houses a la The Good Son. He was a great actor, but I spent half of the movie wondering how the two hadn't headlined as a tragic case in the paper, which spurred on my belief that we were looking at a remake of The Others. The extent to which I did not like first-half-of-movie-child made me uncomfortable because I was imagining terrible scenarios. When the mother yelled, "Why can't you just be normal?" My thoughts were: "Oh My God, right???" and "Well, the little bastard needs therapy anyways. Why not? You tell him!"
The switch in the child when the mother lost her sh*t would have been effective if there had been a transformation when the Babadook first entered the picture. I thought it was cool the kid defied our expectations and rose to the challenge, but I couldn't believe it. Early movie kid didn't have redeeming qualities to make me suspect he would be capable of a transition that involved real feelings. Murder, sure. Rising above his mother's fall and spurring her love to drive out the creature? No way.
The final straw was the taming of the Babadook. Who knew he would make a creepy but beloved addition to the household? I see the metaphor for grief. It was obvious. But why do you have to feed it worms?
And there's the family dog. I get it. It's a very effective illustration of just how far the "infected" person has devolved, but I'm tired of it. Every. Single. Time.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars.
Maybe I'll watch it again and glean some insight I missed in the first go around. I didn't like how the movie made me feel (imagining bad things happening to a kid is disturbing), but I can't dock a movie for creating a strong emotional response. The ending was the biggest disappointment, feelings aside.
I do appreciate that it's created and directed by a woman, which is a rare feat in the horror industry. We need more of that, but it doesn't mean I'm judging this any differently than the next film.
I left The Babadook frustrated. If you liked it, I'm happy for you. What was it that I missed?
by Camela Thompson
Michael G. Munz started a trend in our household: Live tweeting horror movies. We pick movies based on the title and concept, and many of them have a very low rating. Sometimes I wonder if we are giving them a fair shot, but I know I genuinely want to find a hidden gem. I love horror movies. My current favorites are the improbable mashups of horror and comedy. This combination is brilliant when well executed and a side show disaster when it isn't. With all of the cliches in the genre, there are many opportunities to poke fun or make a throwback reference to an earlier work.
Other than material for tweet fodder, why would we do this to ourselves? There is actually quite a bit to learn from these movies as an author. Spoilers lurk ahead along with my findings.
The Mirror (2014)
The premise of the movie: Three friends purchase a mirror on eBay that is supposedly haunted and film the resulting chaos for a paranormal reality contest.
The positives: The acting wasn't bad.
The negatives: From the start, there was something hugely familiar about this movie. It took me about ten minutes, but I remembered Oculus, a horror movie my husband and I watched earlier this year. The concept is pretty much the same. A mirror possesses people. They do horrible things to one another. The main difference is that in Oculus two siblings are brought together to destroy the mirror years after witnessing massive carnage inflicted upon their family.
The issue wasn't the redundant material. As with many horror movies, there was a profound loss of logic. They didn't review the tape to determine who was shutting off the camera. No one went to the hospital when a reasonable person would go to a hospital. No one called the police to report a missing person... you get my drift. The inconsistent behavior stacked up until it was profoundly irritating. A friend joked that logic would lead to a shorter movie. I disagree. There are plenty of things that could still go wrong with a haunted mirror even if someone went to get stitches.
Review: I'd give it one star. The acting might nudge it to two, but the writing choices drove me up a wall.
The premise: Friends partying at a cabin piss off Aliens and all hell breaks loose.
The positives: Some of the classic horror constructs were followed while others were broken. The zany pot-growing neighbor with a nose for conspiracy theories was entertaining. It was funny to see the guy who played the jackass in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil play another jackass. I appreciated the references to prior alien movies and the surprise ending.
The negatives: Any time a movie highlights a dog getting hurt because they have a imbecile for an owner shoots me over the edge. There's a human death that just doesn't make sense, the aliens don't show up for most of the movie, and the construct is so intentionally classic that it's a bit irritating. At least The Cabin in the Woods had explanations in place for their choices that I found clever.
Review: Two and a half stars. I was entertained, but I would never watch it again.
Alien Uprising (U.F.O.) (2012)
The premise: Five friends binge drink and then wake up to Aliens on the verge of attack.
The positives: There were people in it.
The negatives: I couldn't list a single character I liked throughout the movie. Brosnan's character was hot-headed and irrational. The flashes to the future that happened throughout the movie were completely ineffective and annoying in their frequency. Flash forwards or flashbacks have to be executed sparingly and serve a meaningful purpose. These were neither (for lessons on effective scene overlay, look at Wayward Pines). Even progressive timelines were confusing. Aliens were scarce. The most egregious foul in this entire movie was a completely unnecessary sexual assault. It served no purpose in the plot and just plain didn't make sense.
Review: Zero stars. If I could award negative stars, I would.
If you want to check out some entertaining horror movies, I've listed a few I enjoy that aren't insanely popular. I'll be covering them in more depth in a future post.
If you want a mix of comedy and horror (heavier on the horror of course):
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
The Man Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
If you like straight up horror:
The Taking of Deborah Logan
Do you enjoy the horror genre? What is the best or the worst you've seen and why?
Title: A Shift in the Water, Elemental Shifter Series Book 1
Author: Patricia D. Eddy
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Cade Bowman leads a small werewolf pack in Bellingham, Washington. Or he did, before a fire elemental intent on revenge traps him as his wolf. His pack gone, held prisoner by the elemental's charms, he knows death is coming for him.
Mara Taylor is dying. A mysterious blood disorder is taking her life and her doctors can't seem to stop it. Only her daily swims offer her any relief. Resigned to her fate, she heads to Orcas Island for one last swim.
When Cade's wolf finds Mara, he knows instinctively that she's the key to freeing him from the fire elemental's charm. She's more than that. She's his.
Can Mara free Cade his wolf and save her own life in the process? And if she does, can they survive when they learn the identity of the fire elemental hunting them both?
When I picked up A Shift in the Water by Patricia D. Eddy, I couldn't put it down. I felt sad when I went to work and had to leave my Kindle behind. When I got back home, I sat with my back against the stove so I didn't burn dinner. I still burned dinner, but it was barely burned. If I hadn't stuck so close to the meal, it would have fused to the pan. Cade was trapped and tormented, a woman was facing the end of her life with as much dignity as possible, and yes, there was sexual tension. There wasn't time to stand over a sauce pan and stir!
The story and building romance kept me turning the pages, but I couldn't help but identify with Mara. So many of the symptoms she faced mirrored systemic lupus, and were things I've experienced. I was really impressed with how well Eddy captured the emotions of someone steeped in illness. The struggle to find a diagnosis is exhausting on its own without the fatigue that often comes with chronic health issues. I could relate to Mara's refusal to move in with her friends, and reluctance to rely on others. It wasn't about trust. It was about independence. Going off to think by herself, even though it was dangerous, made sense. Every time she went against doctor's orders, it was believable. Because of the paranormal elements, when her struggles continue to grow in intensity, there was still hope. This book is a great example of why I love the paranormal.
I can't think of a reason to not read this book. If you like interesting characters with a lot of depth or people who face adversity with grace and determination, you will like A Shift in the Water.
About the Author
Patricia D. Eddy can't stop writing. Not that she's tried. Her characters won't let her.
She fuels her writing with copious amounts of caffeine-she lives in Seattle, after all-and rewards herself with good Scotch and red wine.
In between writing, editing, and mentoring other authors, she runs around lakes, reads late into the night, and is terribly addicted to Doctor Who and Sherlock. She has a thing for quirky British men and isn't ashamed to admit it.
Her quirky-but-not-British husband never gives her grief for working long hours or occasionally talking to herself when she has disagreements with her characters, for which she is very thankful.
Patricia D. Eddy's...... Website | Twitter | Facebook
By Camela Thompson
The advertisements for Stalker had me en garde - they were framed in such a way that appeared the detective squad's intent was to rehabilitate stalkers rather than protect their victims. While rehabilitation would be nice, I have a harder time relating to the people acting on a delusion than I do rooting for them to be caught. It's probably not the best mindset, but at least I'm honest. I was concerned that the show would romanticize stalking, but I was pleased with the actual content.
In the grand scheme of things, having a stalker only took up a very small portion of my life, but it was traumatic enough to leave me jumping at every shadow for at least two years. The paranoia continued to a lesser extent. I was more guarded in college than most, which in certain circumstances served me well. I was always cautious around open containers, checked the seals on any bottled beverages, and was careful about where I parked and how I got home. I called myself "paranoid," but a lot of the behavior was smart. Watching the pilot episode of stalker brought back a lot of negative memories - and had me remembering some of those same habits - checking all of the locks, facing the door so I could see a shadow underneath, and the frustration I felt.
Stalker did a great job of portraying the helplessness felt by victims. Many stalkers are smart enough to tiptoe along the line of a restraining order, just pushing far enough to intimidate without violating a law. There isn't much that can be done by law enforcement until an aggressor has done something menacing or physically harmed a person. A stalking victim is psychologically toyed with - predators get a rush from the control they exert over their victims. It isn't hard to get caught up in the fear that comes with wondering what is next. When is he/she going to violate the order? How far will he/she go? It's disruptive and anxiety inducing.
The one aspect of the show that made me laugh was the existence of a unit in any police department that focuses on proactively preventing crime. A stalker unit. When I did some research online, there actually appears to be a Threat Management Unit in the LAPD. I was really surprised, but I still wonder how proactive the law allows them to be. Legal institutions are reactive by nature, which I see value in. It would be insane to start arresting people before they commit a crime based on some kind of probability model like Minority Report. Still, the Threat Management Unit is something I will be reading up on. I would be interested to see statistics around the efficiency of such a model.
Have you seen Stalker? What did you think?
Join me on Wednesday (10/15) for the launch of All the Pretty Bones.
By Camela Thompson
Like most modern vampire and werewolf creations, Hemlock Grove takes a unique spin on existing mythology. I haven't read the book yet, but the Netflix original series speaks to Romanian and Romani origins. The terminology and creature construct for their vampire, however, is Slavic (the strigoi is the Romanian vampire). The Upir can be found throughout Ukraine, Russia, Poland, and other Slavic regions with minor variations in legend and spelling. As an aside, the show's mythology gets more confused when considering the vargulf, which is Norse.
The Upir is probably a combination of the Slavic pagan mythology and superstitions that carried over once the Russian Orthodox Church was established. People who committed grave sins or did not believe in God were excluded from burial on church grounds. It was rumored these people were witches in consort with the devil and possessed prior to death. Bodies buried in unholy ground were also said to decompose slowly.
In keeping with Upir mythology, the vampires on Hemlock Grove can walk in daylight and appear as normal humans. The Upir are born with either a caul or other physical deformity, such as a tail. They feed off the emotions of others, creating chaos and pain for their personal nourishment. The Upir also feed off others. As in: eat them. In Hemlock Grove, a person is born an Upir rather than transformed, and bleeding to death (or perhaps just dying) is the final step in their transformation. This doesn't necessarily conflict with Upir mythology since the Upir raises from the grave. Where the book and the mythology do diverge is the victimology. Most Upir myths involve the consumption of small children before devouring the entire family. Hemlock Grove opted for a more sympathetic version. Kind of.
Despite his malicious tendencies, Roman Godfrey is an interesting character. I find him to be a conflicted soul without the tedious introspection and brooding we see featured so frequently. He's screwed up, angry, and not purely evil. He isn't good either. Far from it. But I suppose that's what makes it interesting. Olivia, played by the gorgeous Famke Janssen, is a fabulous Upir. An ice queen with a shriveled little heart hiding in there somewhere. Many of the characters are odd and broken. I enjoyed season one and feel that the werewolf transformation is amazing. I can't recommend season two after seeing the finale.
Have you seen the series? What did you think of their interpretation of the vampire?
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.