Title: The Devil's Apprentice
Author: M.J. Moeller
Number of pages: 302
Genre: horror, mystery
Book Number/Goal: 20/52
My Rating: 3/5

A businesswoman is preparing to sell her family estate, a medieval church in a small English village, to a client who wants to convert it into a personal residence. When she arrives to the village to finalize the contract, all the hell breaks loose. She's plagued by nightmares and visions, and she's not the only one. A mysterious apparition may be a warning against selling the church, and a serial killer seems to be on the loose.

It's basically a modern gothic novel. The premise is promising, but the story falls short of excitement. There's mystery and suspense all right, but somehow, it all feels a little artificial, and the characters aren't all that interesting. It's also funny how the MC forgets important clues or postpones important investigations for later.
Title: Zombie, Inc.
Author: Christine Dogerty
Number of pages: 302
Genre: sci-fi, horror
Book Number/Goal: 19/52
My Rating: 4/5

The Zombie Apocalypse has irrevocably changed the human way of life, but on the plus side, it created a great business opportunity for the company which specializes in all things zombie: not only hunting & killing zombies, but researching them to use in daily life, such as security guards against burglars. Zombie, Inc. is the biggest company in United Five-States and it provides employment on such generous terms, it's practically a public service! It says right here in the Employee Handbook, excerpts from which start every chapter:

"The world has become a dangerous place, and the least dangerous place for you to be is at Zombie, Inc., so for the benefit of our employees, we've increased the work week from six days to seven! Remember: work happens EVERY DAY! You are required to fulfill your duties EVERY DAY. ... Benefits do not start until after the 180-day probationary period. Time off (including mandatory in-service days) and leave (except maternity) during the 180-day probationary period will count as Unpaid Working Days. ZI is a work-at-will company, and you can be discharged any time, for any reason, regardless of having satisfied the 180-day probationary period.

For your convenience, the Employee Handbook cost will be deducted from your first pay period. A yearly fee will be deducted for lost, missing or used-looking Employee Handbooks (at HR discretion). When revisions occur, a new Handbook will be distributed to all ZI employees and the cost deducted from the next applicable pay period."

The story follows two ZI employees, a professional and a novice; the interaction between them gives the author an opportunity to fill the reader in on the world details. The world building is amazing! I'd give it a 5 for the atmosphere, irony and bitterness, if not for the last part of the book, which is full of uninspiring Hollywood-style action. Still, it's an essential read for zombie dystopia fans.
Title: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Shelley
Genre: horror
Book Number/Goal: 15/52
My Rating: 2/5
Notes: for Coursera Fantasy and Science Fiction course (reread)
Download: Project Gutenberg

A young scientist assembles an artificial human from dead people's organs, just to see if it can be done. He succeeds, but the result falls short of his aesthetic standards, so he immediately abandons the "monster", who escapes from the lab and haunts the scientist till his untimely death.

The main character is extremely unlikable. He's obsessed with appearances to such a degree that "ugly" is equivalent to "evil", and vice versa, for no reasons and without any explanations. Even worse, he's a wimp; his preferred method of dealing with problems is noble suffering. The monster is a somewhat better person; he knows what he wants and he acts upon it, and the part about his self-education, from his own POV, is quite touching.

The writing style is old-fashioned and long-winded, as expected from a novel published in 1818. There's not much sense in reading this novel, besides getting acquainted with the history of literature.
Title: Dismember
Author: Daniel Pyle
Number of pages: 300
Genre: horror
Book Number/Goal: 8/52
My Rating: 5/5

A seven-year-old boy is the only survivor in a car accident in which all his family was killed. He's adopted and brought up by a creepy perverted woodsman. Upon growing up, he decides to reconstruct his family by kidnapping appropriate substitutes for each family member.

There's a generous amount of blood & gore (plus hints on child sex abuse) but it's not a simple slasher - the story is highly emotionally charged. The main character is clearly a psycho, but even though I didn't root for him, it was impossible not to feel sorry for him and empathize with him, at least a little. His motives are clear, and he tries to be a good father in his own way; it's not his fault that he's so screwed up and completely misunderstands what does it mean to have a family. (This reminded me on one of my favorite Punisher comics featuring Bullseye, the episode when he tries to recreate Frank's family, even though the resemblance is only tangential.)

The atmosphere is generally creepy, and includes a lot of foreshadowing. A few chapters focused on secondary characters are unnecessary long, IMHO, but it's a minor flaw. Also, I absolutely loved the ending.

(I think it's the first book since the start of my book challenge that I've enjoyed that much... read it in one sitting as I couldn't put it down, wanting to know what comes next.)
Title: Feed
Author: Mira Grant
Number of Pages: 608 pages
Book Number/Goal: 9/10 for 2012
My Rating: 4.5/5

Amazon Summary: Twin bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason and their colleague Buffy are thrilled when Sen. Peter Ryman, the first presidential candidate to come of age since social media saved the world from a virus that reanimates the dead, invites them to cover his campaign. Then an event is attacked by zombies, and Ryman's daughter is killed. As the bloggers wield the newfound power of new media, they tangle with the CDC, a scheming vice presidential candidate, and mysterious conspirators who want more than the Oval Office.

Review: The only reason I didn't give this a full five stars is because the beginning is slow. Like, hella slow. It starts off with an action scene, but then grinds to a half with a shit ton of exposition (the book is actually pretty exposition-heavy all around, which is something I could have done without) and just really boring political stuff.

There isn't much in terms of zombies or action (well, lots of exposition about zombies), just the ins and outs of being a journalist following a presidential campaign, which I guess might be interesting for some people, but was just hugely boring to me. I actually set the book aside for several weeks and read a bunch of manga instead, while considering whether I wanted to keep trying with Feed or just give it up.

But I did decide to keep trying, and I'm really glad I did, because once it gets going, it's really good and I enjoyed it a lot. I just wish it hadn't been so slow to start!

I liked the explanation for the zombies and the world-building in general, and there was lots of intrigue. Also I would highly recommend this to anyone who read too much VC Andrews in their formative years, because wow, Georgia and Shaun. Like, there's no actual incest in the book, but only just. XD

However, Georgia dies in the end, so there's that.

I'm not sure whether I will read the other books or not. This felt pretty complete on its own (and: see spoiler above).
Title: Books of Blood, vol. 2 and Books of Blood, vol. 3
Author: Clive Barker
Number of pages: about 400 together
Genre: horror
Book Number/Goal: 14,15/50
My Rating: 4/5

These books are collections of short urban fantasy stories unrelated to each other. Each story implements a specific idea - something horrible (mostly supernatural) happens in an otherwise mundane environment, messing up the lives of everyone connected to it. All the mysteries are properly explained in the end (I'm not sure it's a good thing; maybe I actually like loose ends.) The stories are firmly plot-based, characters are forgettable and non-likable.

Compared to the first volume of the series, the new stories feel less intense and somewhat more ordinary. They still provide enjoyable reading, but they are not scary or shocking. My favorite story from the 2nd volume is "Dread" (a creepy psychological experiment), and from the 3rd volume - "Son of Celluloid" (a surreal incident in a movie theater).
Title: Books of Blood, vol. 1
Author: Clive Barker
Number of pages: about 150
Genre: horror
Book Number/Goal: 7/50
My Rating: 5/5

This is a collection of 6 short stories in a modern realistic setting with elements of dark and surreal fantasy. Every story is exactly the right length to keep the interest of the reader until the mystery is resolved. There's the requisite amount of poetically described blood & gore; the characters are non-memorable but since we don't have to stick with them for the duration of a novel, it's not a flaw. My favorite story is the last one ("In The Hills, The Cities"), perhaps because the premise is so absurd and shocking, even though half of the story depicts a boring romantic relationship which serves only as a contrast/background for the real thing.

There's 6 of these volumes, hope the rest will be just as enjoyable.
Title: The Damnation Game
Author: Clive Barker
Number of pages: 448
Genre: horror
Book Number/Goal: 4/50
My Rating: 4/5

A modern take on the Faust legend. Loved the elegant and artistic descriptions of gore, of which there's a lot (much to learn here!) and the touching portrayal of the main villain who inspires more pity than fear (same goes for his sidekick). The rest of the characters are either bland or annoying. More flaws: the action is incredibly slow and dragging, the book could easily be 4 times shorter; almost nothing intriguing besides the mystery of who/what is the villain - when this mystery is explained, there's not much left to wonder about. Also, the horror bits are not scary, though this fault probably lies with me for being too jaded (my main feeling was "comforting", as it's so nice to see the author thinking on the same wavelength as me). Still, I very much appreciate the writing style and dealing with some of my favorite subjects (in both gore and philosophy areas).

Must definitely read more Barker. Loved his "Hellbound Heart" but the 1st sequel left me unimpressed and so I forgot about it. Now I see it's essential even from the educational point of view :)
Title: Skeleton Man
Author: Joseph Bruchac
Number of Pages: 114 pages
Book Number/Goal: 47/40 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

Summary: When Molly's parents don't return after a trip, she is placed in the care of a mysterious "great uncle" who's appeared out of nowhere. Everyone else believes his story, but Molly knows something isn't right. Soon she becomes convinced that he is the Skeleton Man, a monster from one of the old Mohawk stories her dad used to tell her. With the help of a rabbit who guides her in her dreams, she begins to make plans to escape and rescue her parents.

Review: This is a super short book, but I really enjoyed it. The story is pretty creepy (both the retold tale of the Skeleton Man that Molly relates as well as what happens to her in the present) and I really liked Molly. I also liked how matter-of-factly Mohawk culture was treated.
Title: Bible Camp Bloodbath
Author: Joey Comeau
Number of Pages: 78 pages
Book Number/Goal: 42/40 for 2010
My Rating: 3/5

Jacket Summary: Bible Camp Bloodbath is a story about a boy named Martin. Martin is going to Bible Camp, and he's going to make a lot of new friends. He's excited, too, but that's probably because nobody told him what the book is called.

Review: I love A Softer World and think Joey Comeau is pretty awesome in general, so I really wanted to like this more than I did. I really love the prose, but the story was just...eh. It was a decent story and kept my attention, but I just kept waiting for it to be something more, I guess. I don't quite see the point of it.
torachan: (Default)
([personal profile] torachan Nov. 6th, 2010 02:54 am)
S, so apparently I forgot to crosspost anything here since the beginning of May...? D: I haven't read a ton of books this year, but it says here my last post was books 6-8 and I just posted book 34 on my journal, so it's more than I want to crosspost in whole here. Instead, here's a list of links to the reviews in my journal (along with some basic info) for those interested, and I will try to be good about crossposting in future.

Books 9-34 behind the cut! )
Title: The Ghost Pirates.
Author: William Hope Hodgson.
Number of Pages: 176.
Genre: Horror.
Book Number/Goal: 50 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: The House on the Borderland.
Author: William Hope Hodgson.
Number of Pages: 152.
Genre: Horror.
Book Number/Goal: 51 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig'.
Author: William Hope Hodgson.
Number of Pages: 132.
Genre: Horror.
Book Number/Goal: 52 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: The Red Tree.
Author: Caitlin R. Kiernan.
Number of Pages: 385.
Genre: Horror.
Book Number/Goal: 53 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: Sagas of Warrior-Poets.
Author: Anonymous.
Number of Pages: 400.
Genre: Literature, Norse sagas.
Book Number/Goal: 54 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: Deerskin.
Author: Robin McKinley.
Number of Pages: 320.
Genre: Fantasy.
Book Number/Goal: 55 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: The Name of the Rose.
Author: Umberto Eco.
Number of Pages: 502.
Genre: Mystery, historical.
Book Number/Goal: 56 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: Arthurian Romances.
Author: Chretien de Troyes.
Number of Pages: 521.
Genre: Literature.
Book Number/Goal: 57 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: The Thief.
Author: Megan Whalen Turner.
Number of Pages: 280.
Genre: Fantasy.
Book Number/Goal: 58 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.
Title: Tooth and Nail.
Author: Ian Rankin.
Number of Pages: 304.
Genre: Crime.
Book Number/Goal: 43 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: Strip Jack.
Author: Ian Rankin.
Number of Pages: 269.
Genre: Crime.
Book Number/Goal: 44 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: Silver Phoenix.
Author: Cindy Pon.
Number of Pages: 338.
Genre: Fantasy.
Book Number/Goal: 45 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
Author: N.K. Jemisin.
Number of Pages: 412.
Genre: Fantasy.
Book Number/Goal: 46 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: Oryx and Crake.
Author: Margaret Atwood.
Number of Pages: 374.
Genre: Speculative fiction.
Book Number/Goal: 47 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: Wild Seed.
Author: Octavia Butler.
Number of Pages: 320.
Genre: Speculative fiction.
Book Number/Goal: 48 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.

Title: The Haunting of Hill House.
Author: Shirley Jackson.
Number of Pages: 208.
Genre: Horror.
Book Number/Goal: 49 of 75 (minimum).
Review: Here.
Title: The Wasp Factory
Author: Iain Banks
Number of Pages: 244
Book Number: 4/53
My Rating: 3.5/5

Bookmark: If I say what I want to say about this book, I'll give away Frank's secret to anyone who hasn't already read it.

Currently Reading: Richard Bolitho, Midshipman by Alexander Kent



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