Tag Archives: supernatural

Review: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Where did I get this book? The library.

Where did I get this book? The library.

I know Felicia Day primarily from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Joss Whedon mini-masterpiece Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, her web show The Guild and guest turns doing things like bowling with Chris Hardwick. She always seemed like an incredibly well-adjusted super nerd, living the super nerd dream. In reality, she has suffered her share of ups and downs, and worked incredibly hard to forge her own unique path to stardom.

In this engaging and sometimes hilarious memoir, Day describes her highly unusual childhood. Haphazardly homeschooled from an early age, she had the freedom to pursue her interests and the help of a series of tutors to cultivate her talents as a singer and violinist. She also had virtually no social interaction with kids her own age. In a way, this was freeing; basically, she could be as weird as she wanted with little feedback from her peers to shut her down. On the other hand, it was lonely and isolating, until she found internet friends through one of the first online fantasy games, Ultima.

Day entered college at 16 on a violin scholarship and double-majored in violin and math. She still lived a largely sheltered life throughout her college years, because she was younger than everyone else, lived at home, and spent all her daylight hours either practicing violin or studying. When she graduated, she went to California to pursue a career as an actor, and for the first time her work ethic and superstar grades were no help. She was making a living, but not achieving her dream of success.

That’s when her brother introduced her to World of Warcraft. She quickly went from playing the game as a fun stress reliever to obsessively devoting all her waking hours to it. Her addiction cost her a significant amount of time and emotional energy but in the end she was able to break free, and she used her experience to write a pilot for The Guild, about a group of hardcore WoW gamers. When TV execs passed on the script for the pilot, Day recruited friends and volunteers to make the show happen.

Although the show enjoyed several years of success, when it finally came to an end, Day had difficulty accepting the inevitable. She recounts her struggle with burn-out stress, depression and suicidal ideation. When she finally sought help, it turned out that her problems had at least some physical basis: an undiagnosed thyroid condition, fibroids, and an unpleasant esophogeal problem. She notes how messed up it is that she was willing to see a doctor for physical problems when she’d ignored her emotional and mental health for so long. The good news: she is feeling much better these days and is back to her old creative self (hence this book.)

As an epilogue, Day addresses some of the horrific bullying and harassment that have taken place as part of the whole GamerGate nightmare. I am no gamer myself, but it is bizarre to me that anyone would seek to exclude people from an activity they enjoy or try to create an atmosphere of fear in what should be an inclusive community.

Day is a deft and engaging writer, willing to relate even the most awkward and embarrassing anecdotes. And Joss Whedon wrote the foreword! Reason enough to read it right there.

Genre: Geek celebrity memoir.

Read it if: You’ve ever faced major obstacles to achieving your creative dreams; you’ve ever felt like the biggest geek in the room; you’ve ever become a little bit too dependent on the internet (I still miss you, Farmville!)

Skip it if: You have never heard of Joss Whedon, World of Warcraft, Nichelle Nichols, Supernatural, or ComicCon; you dislike curse words and/or fun with Photoshop.

Movie-worthy: Mmm, no. But maybe someone should start a “Behind the Geek” bio series, like “Behind the Music” but with more cosplay. I would totally watch that!

 

 

 

Review: The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter

Where did I get this book? The library.

Where did I get this book? The library.

Jane, a 34-year-old archivist at the Chester Museum, is haunted. Haunted, not only by a tragic incident that occurred when she was fifteen, but also by an indeterminate number of spirits who follow her life in hopes of learning something crucial about who they once were. Even to each other they are mostly voices: the soft-spoken one, the poet, the theologian, the idiot. Jane has no idea that they exist.

Now the Chester Museum is closing, but Jane is unable to concentrate on finding a new job or even carrying out her final duties. She is distracted by the prospect of seeing someone from her past for the first time in 20 years, a meeting that will send her tidy life off the rails. She takes refuge in the search for answers to a long overlooked mystery: the story of N., a young woman who apparently disappeared from the Whitmore insane asylum in the mid-19th century.

Perhaps it’s Jane’s fixation with the past that draws the others to her. They watch over her shoulder as she examines documents from the old asylum and the Farrington household at Inglewood, places that are familiar to some of them. They cling to flashes of recognition and debate the meaning of their own persistence.

While Jane and her unseen companions are able to put some mysteries to rest, other questions will never be answered. This lyrical and thought-provoking novel suggests that Jane, and the reader, will have to learn to live with that uncertainty.

Genre: A literary blend of contemporary and historical fiction, with a dash of the supernatural for good measure.

Read it if: You like your genres fluid, your protagonists conflicted, and your endings ambiguous.

Skip it if: You are strongly anti-ghost; you dislike reading about 19th-century British people roaming about in nature; you can’t stand it when a novel ends with the main character writing down the first line of the actual novel you just read.

Movie-worthy: Everyone would say the book was better.

Review: Werewolf Cop by Andrew Klavan

Where did I get this book? The library!

Where did I get this book? The library!

Let me start by saying how much I love the straightforward simplicity of this book’s title: Werewolf Cop. No ambiguity there. It’s about a cop. Who becomes a werewolf.

If, like me, you are delighted by the title, you should probaby skip this review and just go read it already. If you require a little more convincing, I’ll do my best.

Werewolf Cop is at heart a police procedural. Agent Zach Adams and his partner Martin Goulart work for the highly secretive Extraordinary Crimes Division, also known as Task Force Zero. Their mission: to root out a mysterious crime organization known as die Bruderlichkeit, or BLK (one quibble: I think this means “brotherhood” as an abstract concept, and maybe it should have been called Die Bruderschaft. Just saying.) The BLK has already wreaked havoc in Europe, where rioting and sectarian violence have brought civlization to its knees.

As the novel opens, the brutal murder of a well-known fence and his family are the latest sign of something evil at work in the city. Adams follows a lead to Germany and gets a big surprise in the Black Forest. It’s hardly a spoiler to reveal what happens next (hint: Werewolf Cop!)

Originally from Texas and known among his peers as “the Cowboy,” Adams is an unflinchingly moral man, a man of faith. He doesn’t share his wife Grace’s deeply held religious beliefs, but he willingly accompanies her to church every Sunday and counts himself extraordinarily lucky to have her and their two children in his life. This makes it even harder for him to reconcile his changed nature and the tally of his sins with his incorruptible conscience.

Unlike Jake Marlowe in Glen Duncan’s brilliant and bloody The Last Werewolf, Zach Adams finds little sensual pleasure in life as the wolf, and while they both experience existential crises as a result of their wolfly state, Adams is first and foremost an officer of the law. Even the wolf can’t change that.

Genre: Supernatural police procedural.

Read it if: You like stories that aren’t afraid to grapple with the essential nature of good and evil; you love both Michael Connelly and Stephen King; you can’t resist a book that references Goethe and the Gretchenfrage (yay, Faust!).

Skip it if: You don’t want to read graphic descriptions of crime scenes; you are expecting a campy send-up of the standard cop novel; you only like sexy werewolves like Alcide in True Blood.

Movie-worthy: This could be a deeply creepy movie.