September 30, 2010

The House Of Woe (Review: The Dead of Winter; C. Priestly)

The Dead of Winter
Chris Priestly
Bloomsbury 2010

Michael Vyner recalls a terrible story, one that happened to him. One that would be unbelievable if it weren't true! Michael's parents are dead and he imagines that he will stay with the kindly lawyer, executor of his parents' will ...Until he is invited to spend Christmas with his guardian in a large and desolate country house. His arrival on the first night suggests something is not quite right when he sees a woman out in the frozen mists, standing alone in the marshes. But little can prepare him for the solitude of the house itself as he is kept from his guardian and finds himself spending the Christmas holiday wandering the silent corridors of the house seeking distraction. But lonely doesn't mean alone, as Michael soon realises that the house and its grounds harbour many secrets, dead and alive, and Michael is set the task of unravelling some of the darkest secrets of all (blurb courtesy of Amazon).

A while ago, I reviewed a book that was touted as a mix between Wilkie Collins and The Woman in Black – as Collins is one of my favourite writers and The Woman in Black is one of the most terrifying books that I have ever come across, I had expected great things from the title and it was a crashing disappointment (although not necessarily a surprise) when it didn't live up to the description. That very same description could easily have been used on The Dead of Winter – except this time it would have been 100% on the money, because The Dead of Winter has a distinct tone of Collins in its narrative style and gives The Woman in Black some stiff competition chill wise.

The books starts, as all good ghost stories should, in a gloomy cemetery where protagonist Michael is burying his mother. It sets the tone of the novel perfectly as Michael is told (at the graveside, of course) that he is to go and stay with his new guardian, Sir Stephen, on his country estate. Reluctant to stay with a man he has never met (and who was, accidentally, responsible for his fathers' death) Michael acquiesces only when it is explained to him that he need only spend Christmas with Sir Stephen before being sent off to boarding school. Michael is the perfect narrator. Grieving his much adored mother, his anger being shunted off to a strange country house is palpable as is his frustration at his lack of control. Still, while seemingly quite mature (I have no idea what age he is meant to be, but he refers to himself as a child), when left to his own devices his boyish desire to explore Hawton Mere (Sir Stephen's house) never seems out of keeping with his continuing grief and neither does his innocent delight at the years' first snowfall – one of the lighter moments in a fairly dark story. Hawton Mere itself is a bit of a triumph of storytelling. As much a character in this story it's looming presence overshadows everything. Standing on its own, in the middle of flat marshland it is an imposing figure and the detail that it has been written in is a real pleasure to read. I think that many writers underestimate the power of a frightening house, but Chris Priestly has not and his creation reminded me of every haunted house story that terrified me as a child.

To talk about the plot at any length would be to ruin the story for those who have not read it, so I won't. I will, however, mention the writing. The Dead of Winter is a classic ghost story and is written in that lovely clear, concise manner of the Victorian period in which it is set – always a joy to read. From the grim London Cemetery of the first few pages to the darkness of Hawton Mere and its lonely moors, the story is incredibly atmospheric and the build in tension as the story reaches is climax is excellently wrought. It brought to mind so many stories that I love, not only The Woman in Black but also The Signalman, The Turn of The Screw and towards the end even The Tell Tale Heart and The Raven. Also, it's set at Christmas and everybody knows that the best ghost stories are always set at Christmas. Curl up in front of the fire with a glass of something and a blanket, grab this book while the wind howls outside your window and prepare to be frightened. Yet, while you may jump, I can guarantee that you will do so with a huge smile on your face – because, more than anything else, The Dead of Winter is an absolute pleasure.

The Dead Of Winter is out on October 4th 2010 - thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this title to review.

Winner of The Enemy and The Dead

The lucky, lucky winner of both The Enemy and The Dead by Charlie Higson is.....drumroll....

Ashley's answer to surviving the zombie apocalypse was: 

"Probably hide out somewhere really fortified with lots of strong people who I've made believe survival is key, and that if they help me live, I'll let them rule the new world with me. 
Cuz really, this is my killer plan to take over the world and weed out the hostile population. I'd also have a cure, so if I did get attacked, I'd still be okay".  

Ashley, some might say that you have given this too much thought but can never over-plan for the zomb-pocalypse.

An email is on it's way to Ashley and I'd like, once again, to thank Jayde and Hannah and Puffin for facilitating this give away.

September 29, 2010

Mama Love

As a long time Harry Potter fangirl, I was delighted to find out that the lovely Jennifer of Reading With Tequila (surely the only way to read) was looking for guest posts on characters from the books. I've written about my love and respect for the fabulous Mrs. Weasley and you can read my post here. She was an obvious choice for me - I mean, would you mess with her? 

While you're there be sure to check out the rest of the posts that Jennifer has run during her ace Harry Potter week. Hell, check out her whole blog, it's one of my personal favourites. And not just because it advocates tequila.

September 27, 2010

How Do I Love Thee? (Review: Torment; Lauren Kate)

Lauren Kate
Headline 2010

This review may contain slight spoilers if you have not read Torment. If you have not read the first in this series – Fallen - then the spoilers are HUGE. You have been warned.
How many lives do you need to live before you find someone worth dying for? In the aftermath of what happened at Sword and Cross, Luce has been hidden away by her cursed angelic boyfriend, Daniel, in a new school filled with Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans. Daniel promises she will be safe here, protected from those who would kill her. Yet the more Luce learns about herself, the more she realizes that the past is her only key to unlocking her future...and that Daniel hasn't told her everything. What if his version of the past isn't actually the way things happened? (blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

I read Torment's predecessor Fallen earlier this year, shortly before I started blogging. I picked it up on a whim, having not heard much about it and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I picked it up again this week prior to reading Torment and found that I enjoyed it even more second time round. So Torment had a lot to live up to and I started it with some trepidation as recently my high expectations have ruined a few books for me. I am relieved to say that Torment was not one of them. If anything it is even better than Fallen, which is saying something.

The plot is clever and contains a lot of information that could easily be confusing. Having left Sword and Cross, Luce finds herself at yet another live-in school – this time Shoreline, on the sunny Californian coast line. Shoreline is a stunning contrast to Sword and Cross. Where the latter was claustrophobia epitomised with it's creeping kudzu, dank cemetery and ever present surveillance cameras the former is a place of light, freedom and beauty. It is really lovely to read about and cleverly allows the characters, particularly Luce, space to think and learn. Most interestingly, we find out considerably more about the shadows that have haunted Luce since childhood. At times the plot feels frustratingly full of only half-answers and teasing snippets of back story but this is clearly intentional and the overall story arc is gripping enough to keep you reading. Torment, like Fallen, isn't heavy on action scenes but those that there are are extremely thrilling and I thought that the ending was exceptionally well written.

However, it is the characters that make Torment a standout read of 2010. While most of the faces from Fallen show up at one point or another we are also introduced to several new figures from Shoreline, with teachers Francesca and Steven being particularly intriguing and Miles being just lovely. Daniel remains an enigma. Despite Torment being bookended by sections from his point of view, I was left completely confused by his actions and motivations and actually found myself leaning towards the more straight-speaking Cam. It's Luce herself who brings this book to life, though. She's just such an excellent heroine. Far from the host of female protagonists in the paranormal genre who just blindly follow where their (often commandeering) vampire/werewolf/faerie/other love leads, Luce believably starts to question Daniel and the loop of lives that he insists she has been caught in. When he tells her to obey his instructions to stay quiet and content herself with whatever half-truths he offers her, she gets mad. She, as you would, wants to know more about her past lives and the nature of their endless relationship. She also questions the wisdom of remaining in a world that seems so dangerous and she misses her family and ponders the implications of her situation on them. Yes, ladies and gentlemen – I introduce you to the anti-Bella. A girl with a lot more gumption, a deal of common sense and considerably more objectivity. Can I here a YAY for gumption, common sense and objectivity!

Lauren Kate's writing is as enjoyable this time round as it was in Fallen. I particularly love her ability to write an entirely immersing setting and enjoyed the change of location in Torment hugely. The book also has some very funny moments with the dinner scene towards the end being extremely amusing. There are lovely shades of grey both in the writing and the storyline. It is becoming increasingly clear that nothing is black and white in Daniel and Luce's story and I have no idea what might happen in the final book of the trilogy. On pondering the ending, I actually found myself wondering if Luce could be an amnesiacal Lucifer – no idea where that came from...possibly too much coffee. Whatever happens, I am sure that the final book in this trilogy will make for an exciting read. For those of you looking for a cleverly written, imaginative paranormal tale with more than a little romance and an absolutely standout protagonist then this is absolutely for you. In fact, even if you are not looking for these things, pick up Fallen and Torment – I am certain that you will be pleasantly surprised.

Torment is released on 30th September in the UK - a big thanks to UK Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to read and review such a great title.

September 26, 2010

IMM (#20)

In My Mailbox is a meme created and hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren with inspiration from Alea at Pop Culture JunkieAll book titles link to further info at Goodreads.

I've been absent from IMM for a few weeks due to being pretty busy and re-thinking how I present the post. I've decided that, rather than categorising my list I'm just going to lump everything together. All items in my IMM posts have either been bought, received for review, gifted, loaned or sent via UK Book Tours. This seems like a sleeker way to present my own personal IMM and I can thank anyone who has gifted or loaned a book in the few lines I write about each title. Publishers who have sent me review copies are always thanked when I post my reviews. Any thoughts about this new format would be more than welcome. So, here goes - this is a longer post than usual as I'm summing up several weeks worth of books:

Catcher In The Rye
JD Salinger
Penguin 1951
Embarrassingly, I have never read this. Well, I tried when I was much younger but not with any success. All the recent talk of banned books made me decide that it was about time that I gave it a shot. John Green's excellent Vlog on the book also encouraged me considerably.

Kiersten White
Harper Teen 2010
This has been on my wish list for what feels like forever and I was pretty excited when it arrived.  I read it immediately and am delighted to say that it is just as good as everyone is saying it is. Review to come soon.

The Killing Place
Tess Gerritsen
Bantam Press 2010
Yes - an adult book! I love Tess Gerritsen and particularly love her Rizzoli and Isles characters (although not in the TV show that these books have spawned - it's a bit crappy). The crime genre is one YA sadly lacks a lot of and it was a real treat to return to the adult world as it exists in Gerritsen's books. I won't be reviewing this but highly recommend the series.

Losing It 
ed. Keith Gray
Andersen Press Ltd. 2010
I would never normally have picked up a collection of stories about virginity and its departure but I read so many interesting reviews of this that I decided to have a look. Every story is a gem but more than anything this collection has confirmed to me that Anne Fine is still just as amazing as she was in my youth and that Patrick Ness is a bloody genius.

Love Is The Higher Law
David Levithan
Random House 2009
This is the second book that I have read by Levithan and I'm still not sure that I like his writing style but it was a pretty interesting read. It looks at three different and intertwining viewpoints of 9/11 and is extremely moving at times, as well as being satisfyingly honest.

The Dead of Winter
Chris Priestly
Bloomsbury 2010
Firstly, isn't this just a fantastic cover? So pretty yet also so creepy! I loved the sound of this old fashioned ghost story and am delighted to say that it does everything it promises. An excellent winter read, my review of this will be up next week.

A Gathering Light
Jennifer Donnelly
Bloomsbury 2003
Not my usual cup of tea, but hugely lauded by readers and critics like when it was published back in 2003. It is a genuinely haunting story and I have a review for this unmissable story on the way.

Jennifer Donnelly
Bloomsbury 2010
Having really enjoyed A Gathering Light I am looking forward to this title. Set between modern day New York and Paris and France during the French revolution it looks intriguing to say the least.

Out For Blood
Alyxandra Harvey
Bloomsbury 2010
I love this series and fully expect to enjoy Out For Blood just as much as I enjoyed My Love Lies Bleeding and Blood Feud. I mean, seven vampire brothers! It's genius of the highest order.

Burning Secrets
Clare Chambers
Harper Collins Children's Books 2011
I am really looking forward to this one. The story line of a boy with a dark past moving to a remote and not necessarily friendly island sounds right up my street.  I've not heard of the author before so am interested to see how the story pans out.

Raised By Wolves
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Quercus 2010
I didn't know all that much about werewolves, or wolves full stop for that matter, before I read this fascinating take on girl-meets-lupine. My review is already up here and this title is definitely worth checking out if you are looking for something a bit different.

Lauren Kate
Headline 2010
I'm reading this at the moment and it is just so good! I loved Fallen and thus far Torment is just as gripping and atmospheric. Absolutely worth picking up.

So, that's me for, er, the last three weeks or so. I've got lots of lovely things to read, but also lots of not so lovely textbooks to study. I actually have a backlog of reviews to post so there should be a few up this week. Happy reading everyone.

September 23, 2010

Howling At The Moon (Review: Raised By Wolves; JL Barnes)

Raised By Wolves
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Quercus 2010

Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two. But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs. But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped? (blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

I've not read many werewolf books. I thought that I had, but realised that the wolves either existed on the periphery (Twilight) or didn't follow the standard werewolf canon (Shiver). Not that I am entirely clear on what the standard werewolf canon actually would be, but Raised By Wolves seems to me to be very, well, wolfie...

Protagonist Bryn is a pretty interesting character. Rescued from a rogue wolf attack at the age of four, she has been living with the large pack of werewolves who saved her ever since. It's fair to say that she is nothing like your usual female protagonist. While she is definitely human, she has been “marked” by Alpha Callum thus allowing him dominance over her and allowing her a psychic bond to the whole pack. However, Bryn has been able to effectively mute the psychic bond and isolate herself from most of pack life. She is, as my granddad would say, one tough cookie. I wasn't at all sure that I liked her at first, but as the story progresses it soon becomes apparent that her stubborn nature and seemingly endless ability to answer back when she really should be keeping her mouth shut are interwoven with a girl suffocating in a male dominated society. The relationship that she has with Callum is particularly interesting. Both her keeper and her father figure, she swings from being hugely irritated to equally fond of the were who saved her life. Callum himself is a fascinating figure and even as the story drew to a close I was entirely unsure of his motivations or his feelings for Bryn.

The peripheral characters are also very well drawn. Devon, Bryn's closed ally in the pack, adds some much needed levity to proceedings and is an interesting conundrum of sometimes extreme campness and equally overwhelming masculinity. Of all the female characters, I found Lake to be the most likeable and also the most effectively written with her brash manners and weapon-love skillfully stripped down to reveal a glimmer of an altogether more thoughtful and vulnerable girl. Chase, as the boy who Bryn finds imprisoned, is probably the most lightly sketched. It was hard to know whether to like or dislike him, but I found their relationship believable and surprisingly subtle. There are no great declarations of love, just a growing need that ties in nicely with the wolf mentality.

And it is this wolf mentality, and the dynamics of pack life, that brings Raised By Wolves to life. I get the distinct impression that the author really did her research when it came to wolves, as this lot certainly have a distinct way of interacting with each other. The male wolves (of which there are considerably more than the females) quest constantly for dominance over each other, over other packs and above all over their females. Once Bryn opens up her psychic bond to the pack, the constant wolfie claims of “mine” are often infuriating – I really started to feel her frustration and anger. This lot definitely slept through the emancipation of women. The only thing that makes these claims of ownership more manageable is that they are often made with a true desire to protect. The pack, while hugely loyal to each other, also operates a strict justice system which rang true to me after watching wolf documentaries on the nature channel. Rather than treating werewolves like men and women who just happen to change into wolves once a month, the author has treated them like men and women who are wolves and who live their lives according to this. It's very well done and very compelling to read.

The plot itself is quite a slow burner, but works very well. The denouement was thrilling and unusual in that I've never come across the mythology introduced before. However, the majority of Raised By Wolves is dedicated to world building and it is really very effective. By the time I reached the last page I could think of myriad ways in which the story could progress yet happy to say that I have absolutely no idea where Jennifer Lynn Barnes will go with Bryn in the next installment (due out next summer). I really didn't think that I would get so wrapped up in a book devoted totally to werewolves but it is absolutely fascinating and I am extremely interested to see what will happen to Bryn, her family and her friends next.

Thanks to UK Book Tours and Quercus for organising this review copy.

September 21, 2010

Work In Progress (Review: The Carrie Diaries; Candace Bushnell)

The Carrie Diaries
Candace Bushnell
Harper Collins 2010

Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation? The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted. (blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

I really hate Sex and The City. The TV show – I've never read the book. But that show – I hate it. A lot. I couldn't really tell you why. Well, I could, but it would take up the entire post. Mainly I hate it's inherent smugness, it's self reverential humour and above all, it's characters. Rant over. Please don't hit me with your girly sticks all at once...I can't help it, it just never appealed. Therefore, when asked if I would like to review The Carrie Diaries I was hesitant – I didn't much like Carrie as an adult (although she is the best of the insufferable lot) so why on earth would I want to read about her as a teen? Still, I believe in reading out with my comfort zone on occasion, reasoning that everyone else seemed to like the whole silly lot of them so I might as well try again with just the one. I am really quite glad that I did. While it pains me to admit it, I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

As far as the story goes, we find Carrie starting her last year of high school with a group of loyal friends. While focused on her future, she is quickly distracted by the arrival of handsome Sebastian. A boy who has “bad idea” just written all over him. Sadly, Carrie is a little to young to see that yet and her and her friends embark on getting to know him. The high school that Carrie inhabits is easily recognisable with the usual clique of beautiful people (hilariously referred to as the Pod People) ruling the roost. Carrie and her friends seem to fall mid-range in the popularity ratings and spend their time drinking, smoking pot and eating hamburgers, although none of these to particular excess. They are a great group to read about. From infuriatingly melodramatic Maggie and gentle Walt, to determined Peter, smart Mighty Mouse and tough Lali they all rang true as real characters. As the story progresses, the group meanders through the perils of high school and particularly that final stage before adulthood and freedom. All of them are acutely aware that their futures are about to start and part of what makes this such an interesting book (despite not much really happening) is their differing reactions to leaving school and embarking on their adult lives.

For me, however, the revelation in this book (quite rightly) was Carrie. I found that I really quite liked her. In fact, I am going to stick my neck out and say that I haven't enjoyed reading a contemporary, female protagonist as much as Carrie in quite some time. I know. I surprise myself. Carrie has such an authentic voice that it is difficult not to get swept up in her life. At 17 she is remarkably focused on her future as a writer, yet still charmingly naive as to the ways of the world in general. Her relationship with Sebastian holds no surprises, but her reactions to it do. This is a girl who has, for want of a better word, balls. She makes mistakes and misjudges people in exactly the way that you would expect her to. While talented (not to mention ambitious) she is still trying to find her voice and while smart she is still learning about, well, pretty much everything. She is absolutely a work in progress and a gem of a character to read.

There is nothing nicer, I think, than having a book prove you wrong. I had low expectations of this title but it has quickly become a book that I would happily recommend to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA. It's not a literary heavyweight, there are no great messages within its pages but it is an entirely charming and worthwhile read with characters who are exceptionally easy to befriend. In fact, I found myself wondering what might happen to Carrie next. I'd quite like to read about her college years, I thought, or perhaps about what happens to her later in life. And lo and behold I found myself ordering Sex and The City... the book of course. Although, you never know, if that goes well perhaps I'll just take a quick peek at the DVD....

Thanks to Harper Collins for sending me this title to review and confounding my expectations.

September 20, 2010

Thank You For The Zombies

Well, I don't know about you, but I am heartily sick of zombies.  Nah, not really - who could get ever get sick of those lumbering, hungering corpses? Not me. Having given it great consideration this week, I think that when it comes to the zombie apocalypse, I'm going to cast my lot with the guys below.  To all major contributors to Week of The Living Day, I say thank you for the music detailed, funny and disturbing musings on all things zombie.

Name: Paul
Contribution: World War Z and Haiku 2
Blog: The Life and Time of Cannonball Jones
Paul's fabulously titled blog details his day to day life as a teacher of English in Thailand.  Funny, fascinating and often moving, it is definitely one to check out.

Name: Adele
Contribution: Zombies? She's Got 'Em
Blog: Persnickety Snark
Most of you will already know Adele as her blog is hugely, and rightly, popular. Her knowledge of YA fiction is impressive and her reviews articulate and to the point. Recently Adele was the massive organisational power behind the Top 100 YA Titles.

Name: Vicki
Contribution: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Blog: Rhiana Reads
Vicki is a fellow UK blogger and one of my favourite to read.  Her reviews are always balanced and thoughtful and we seem to have an almost identical taste in books.  Also, her blog is just super pretty and brightens up my day just with a quick peek.

Name: Donna
Contribution: Why Necrophilia Never Pays
Blog: Bites
Donna runs another amazing looking blog, and her reviews never fail to make me laugh out loud.  She pulls no punches and writes straight from the gut - something I really admire.  Her reviews are many and varied and always worth reading.

Name: Kristi
Contribution: Zombie Days
Blog: The Story Siren
I am pretty sure that you all know who Kristi is.  The Story Siren is one of the most successful blogs out there - rightly so.  Kristi runs the ever popular In My Mailbox meme and is also hosting the 2010 Debut Author Challenge.  Her reviews are concise and fun and her blog full of useful information for new and old bloggers alike.  Also, she's incredibly sweet and friendly.

Name: Joa
Contribution: Photographically Yours
Blog: Fiction and Beyond
Joa is a fairly new blogger and an incredibly interesting one.  As well as being a great photographer, she also writes some really interesting posts - stuff that I've not seen anywhere else.  At the moment on Fiction and Beyond there is a tutorial on how to get the Tessa Gray look for all you Clockwork Angel fans.

Name: Emma
Contribution: Sing, Sing a Song
Blog: Asamum Booktopia
Librarian and mum of three Emma somehow finds the time to maintain her great blog. Her reviews contain plenty of information and always give a balanced point of view. Not only this, but she is a great friend to other bloggers, sharing books and always there with a friendly comment or tweet.

Name: Justin
Contribution: Cat-Loving Rats
Blog: Swish
Justin's blog holds everything from travel tales (his work takes him to some pretty interesting places) to musings on current affairs.  Interesting and articulate, I always come away feeling that I have learned something.  It also has a link to his Flickr pics, some of which are truly beautiful.

Name: Nomes
Contribution: Art of Jason Chan
Blog: Inkcrush
Nomes is a blogger that I really enjoy reading.  Not only are her reviews a lot of fun, she also shares images of her own great artwork. Again, she puts me to shame with her regular comments and her blog is incredibly well put together.

Name: Joni
Contribution: Zombie Contingency Plan
Blog: Kitchen Witch
Joni was the first blog that I ever followed, years before I even looked at any others.  Having stumbled upon her completely by accident, I now consider her one of my best online buddies.  Her blog is about her life as a home-schooling mum of four.  Her ability to speak her mind, straight from her heart and onto the page is refreshing and heart warming.

Name: Nev
Contribution: The Modern Zombie
Blog: Nev360
While based in the UK, Nev spends much of his time travelling round the oil rigs of the world.  His blog muses on all aspects of life and his travel writing is particularly fun.  Always interesting, often educational and frequently hilarious I have yet to come across anything quite like life through Nev's eyes.  

Name: Jenny
Contribution: Review of The Twilight Saga
Blog: Forever Young Adult
Jenny is one of the contributors/founders of Forever Young Adult - a blog that has firmly placed itself in my top five.  Original, side-splittingly funny and above all aimed at the adult in young adult it is an absolute gem.  I particularly love their entirely unique rating system.  A recent stand out has to be Jenny's take on Romeo and Juliet and Vampires. Written in period style.  It has to be seen to be believed.  Geniusness on a stick, I tell you - On. A. Stick.

Thanks also to Jeff for Haiku 1 and to Lauren, Jennifer, Astrid, and Andrew who shared their ideas for Surviving The Zomb-pocalypse.  One day you may well thank them for your life....

The Week of The Living Dead has been a huge success and while everyone mentioned helped it to be so the fun factor came in no small part due to all those of you who commented, tweeted and blogged about it - you are all very fabulous and I have no doubt that you would all survive the zombie hordes.  

September 19, 2010

Sad Sayonara, Haunting Haiku

We've reached the end of Week of The Living Dead.  To see you on your way - a way now far safer for all the information you have gleaned here - are two haikus.  Thank you Jeff and Paul, who prove with their simple words that the imminent zombie apocalypse may bring not only great horror, but possibly great art.  

playful tongue in ear
swirl – poke – lap – then teeth nibble
lie down there my love

Winter of mankind
The dead live, the living die
Now, where's  my shotgun?

Surviving The Zomb-pocalypse

It's one of life's great questions, isn't it?  Were the zombie apocalypse to befall us, what would we do to escape the ravenous hordes?  I think that, if nothing else the past week has proven that it is indeed an ever present possibility. Here are some suggestions from the far-sighted folk that have given it some thought...

I will stay wherever I am! It's always the golden promise that there are no zombies somewhere else that gets people killed! So after my initial trip to the mall/gun store, where I would stock up on flame throwers, grenades, and machine guns, food, and some really thick leather clothing, I'd wait it out. I always wondered why the people in stories didn't just armor themselves a bit. Make it difficult for the zombies to actually bite me! Then I'd sit back with some cocktails and barricade myself (and hopefully a couple other people (unless they were the restless sort) and pick off any zombies nearby from upstairs windows or the roof. I know, eventually, I'd probably have to go out for more supplies, but I think I'd at least last longer than most this way...”


"I can run faster than my hubs plus he is rather chunky so would keep the zombies occupied for long enough for me & kids to escape."

"Based on the numerous zombie movies I've watched, I have a pretty good idea of what my zombie survival plan would entail. Are we talking those new-fangled running zombies? Because if that's the case, I'm dead just about immediately. Those suckers are scary. If we're talking about your run of the mill, shambling undead I could probably hold my own. I would do everything in my power to find an armored car (and convince someone else to drive while I hide in the more protected back). Being that bullets eventually run out, I would always carry a machete. Those are easy to find, right? As for living arrangements, I would want a large, easily secured place with few windows. Like a mall. Unfortunately, malls around here don't have a lot of food, so I'd have to bring my own. All the weapons in the world won't protect me from starvation. I'd be kind and allow others to take refuge in my mall, but I wouldn't risk my safety or whatever remained of my family (sadly, I don't think my kids or my parents are cut out for the zombie-apocalypse lifestyle), so I would be more than willing to shoot zombies and any other dangerous people in the head. I refuse to share my mall with people who are using the zombies as an excuse to brutalize others and let's face it, for some reason criminals seem to thrive in post-apocalyptic worlds"

"It all depends what you mean by 'survive'. Sure, I could barricade myself in a cellar with a six month supply of tinned food, but I don't think the zombie apocalypse is going to go away while I'm hiding from it. And I'm not exactly the slaying type, so... If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Brains, anyone?"

"When my friend Jeff and I sit on my roof at night, we often talk about how we would survive the zombpocalpsye. We are lucky in a way, and unlucky in others. We will have my house, which is a 5 1/2 storey monster towering above the neighbours’. We also have motorbikes, which are almost as good as bikes for getting away from slow-shuffling hordes. This is our luck. Our unluck is being in the middle of a city of 8 million, a staircase made of concrete (Mr Brooks is very firm about staircase destruction in his survival guide), and being in a city of 8 million. Yes – that is so important it’s worth mentioning twice (thanks for letting me steal that line Kryten). So…how to marry luck and unluck together for a fruitful marriage of survival in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City??
  • Stock up on food, but not too much. We are not staying in the middle of this hellhole for long, and leftovers should be taken with – who knows what the countryside will be like.
  • Gather weapons and intel on the bikes. We need to kill them, but we also need to know where they are gathering – indeed, we may even lure them into traps or places far away from home to help with escape part 2.
  • Petrol for bikes, and bikes. They may look like shit, but the old manual scooters are tough. Nothing shiny or automatic – they’re too heavy and too reliant on electronics we can’t fix
  • Work out a route through the houses. I live in an alley complex riddled with small lanes, houses, and far too many blind spots. We need an escape route through/above them so any following zombies cannot follow to the house. It will be our haven whist preparing for escape part 2.
  • Prepare for escape part 2. Pack food and weapons into our backpacks. We’re in the tropics – water will be ok. Extra petrol for the bikes stashed on the back racks. The rest we’ll drain from abandoned bikes on the way (if we can).
  • Get outta dodge. First light. Jeff, me, supplies, bikes. We’re going to head to Cu Chi. After all, we’re stuck in Vietnam – those old war tunnels have got to be good for something. Jeff speaks Vietnamese – maybe they’ll let us in". Astrid                              

"How would I survive a zombie doom? Pray that there would be unicorns to save me! And hope that I don't meet a zombie-unicorn...

Well, I am sure that this leaves you with much to ponder.  As for me, I figure that as I live in Scotland I will hole up in one of the numerous castles - preferably with some sort of armour plated truck that I could use to raid local supermarkets, mowing zombies down on the way.  Eilean Donan would be my castle of choice. Just one entrance route to defend, y'see... And grassy bits, so I could growing vegetables and stuff.  
So I'm sorted - are you?  Is this really something you want to leave to chance?  Nope, thought not - share your plans with us in the comments.  Oh, and good luck...