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Before His Time by Darren Craske

22 Jan

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When we last left the Station Guard and his talking Rat companion, they were eager to head for Switzerland in order to find the other humans that remained on Earth.

After a massive intergalactic catastrophe, all of Earth’s humans are gone. All except for the population of Switzerland, which somehow avoided the peril that befell the rest of Earth and the Station Guard.

With only the foul-mouthed talking Rat for company, the Station Guard is eager to embrace those human’s that remain. After a brief stop at Marks and Spencer to get some winter outer gear (and the blowing up of a shark), the Station Guard and the talking Rat are catapulted through thought and space to Switzerland by Astrid, an articulated python.

Except that there’s a problem. A Very Big Problem. If the Station Guard and the Rat act, they could prevent the whole catastrophe from happening in the first place. If they don’t act, they risk getting lost in history itself. However, they must be careful. For anything they do will have an effect on what will become of the Earth and the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. Add to that the fact that their lives are in grave danger and you’ve got the makings of a blockbuster adventure!

I’ve never appreciated how hard it is to write a review for a sequel without giving anything away or anything away from the first novel in a series. Why the hesitancy in giving anything away? Well, I said it before and I’ll say it again: This book is so good that it deserves to be discovered on its own and dived into.  However, if my plot summary seems especially meager this time around, that’s because I’m trying to be conscious of those who don’t like spoilers or those who haven’t read the first book.

I absolutely loved Above His Station. It was one of my very favourite books of 2012. I wondered if the sequel, Before His Time, would live up to the first book and figured it would. I needn’t have worried. Before His Time is Darren Craske at his most wonderful and inventive best.

Filled with laugh out loud humour, fantastic characters, a lightning quick plot with hair turns and twists aplenty and more meta references than you can shake a stick at, Before His Time is a comedic masterpiece on par with The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

The great thing is that, if you haven’t read Above His Station, Craske gives readers a hilarious take on “The Story So Far” that had me laughing out loud before the novel even really began.  Once the introduction chapter is over, we’re thrown headlong into one of the best novels I have ever read, period. The plot goes places I never envisioned and I have rarely had such a good time.

With pop culture references that cover everything from Back to the Future , Jerry Lewis, Star Wars all the way to Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor, Craske is a writer with his finger on the vein of hilarity. What’s skillful about Craske’s writing is how seamlessly he works the humour in. It comes naturally to his writing and never feels forced. Make no mistake however: this is a madcap adventure that will either have you laughing out loud or holding your sides as you laugh internally. It should probably come with a warning for people who don’t like laughing in public places. However, if you don’t mind laughing yourself silly with the occasional person staring your way, than full speed ahead, I say!

We’re only a hop, skip and a jump into 2013 and Craske has already topped himself again. Before His Time is a skillfully written comedic novel that touches on everything from time travel to history and back again. And I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have taken the ride.

Now would be a very good time for a chocolate digestive biscuit…or two. Oh, and mind the trees. They like to sing on occasion…

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Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handeland

15 Jul

 

There have been rumours surrounding Shakespeare for decades.

Most feel that he could not possibly have written all the works he penned. Some even go so far as to saying he stole works and put his name to them. Others say that William Shakespeare was more than one man.

Even more mysterious are Shakespeare’s Sonnets. The one hundred and fifty four poems, each composed of fourteen lines a piece, all written to a mysterious Dark Lady; a woman with dark hair and a husband. Who was the mysterious Dark Lady? How did Shakespeare write all that he wrote.

No one really knows the truth; until now.

Posing as a member of human society in the 1500’s, Shakespeare is hiding a secret that would be devastating should it get out: he is actually a vampire. A member of the undead, he is also capable of raising zombie armies.

William Shakespeare is a vampire necromancer.

Though he has not raised armies of the dead for some time (though he did raise undead armies for Caesar and for Cleopatra), a barrage of zombie attacks are threatening the safety of London and his carefully kept secrets.

All of his secrets are in danger of escaping him when he meets Katherine Dymond. Posing as a boy, Katherine stalks the streets of London as a Chasseur, a slayer or hunter of zombies. After accidentally killing William Shakespeare in the dark streets of London, Katherine flees, hoping not to be haunted by what she has done. Though she has killed zombies, she has never taken another human’s life.

But William Shakespeare isn’t human. Using her scent to track Katherine down, William pledges to love and protect Katherine with the rest of his life; considering he’s already dead, it’ll be a hard promise to keep.

Working together, the two lovers must find out who is raising the army of zombies, find out what they plan to do and protect the Queen of England. All in a days work for your typical necromancer vampire playwright and his lover…

I was a little sceptical of this book at first. I’m a huge fan of the literary mashups by Quirk Books. However, any other mashup I’ve read (with a couple of exceptions) has been lacklustre by comparison and is usually riding on the success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, published by Quirk Books in 2009.

Thankfully, that is not the case with Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handeland.

The novel is a sheer delight from start to finish. And it is far from being a mashup. Sure, it takes William Shakespeare and pairs his story with vampires and zombies, but the mashup stops there. Thankfully, Handeland tells her own tale with laugh out loud results.

What I loved about this book, aside from the madcap storyline, was the characters. You really feel for Katherine and for William Shakespeare. He’s suffering from writers block and his words are freed by Katherine’s love for him. The comedy is sheer hilarity and the romance just sizzles off of the page.

Handeland has also done her homework. The novel reads like a farce of one of Shakespeare’s own plays. Women dressing as men, witches, vampires, ghosts, doomed love, a crazy nursemaid and more. Handeland has borrowed freely from Shakespeare’s work and made his story elements her own.

This novel is for anyone who hated reading Shakespeare in high school, or for anyone who hasn’t even read Shakespeare. Far from being a literary mashup, Shakespeare Undead is something altogether more.

An absolute madcap delight, this is one novel you won’t want to miss.

Bite Me by Christopher Moore

26 Apr

 

When we last left our vampire lovers in You Suck, Jody and Tommy had been turned into bronze statues by their minion, Countess Abby Von Normal, Back Up Queen of the Night. Jody wanted to remain a vampire. Tommy didn’t.

Rather then let the two lovebirds part ways, Abby had them bronzed. A love like their should stay together forever. But even the best laid plans have a way of unravelling themselves. As this is a Christopher Moore novel, unravelling is rather par for the course.

Abby and her love slave, the righteous Foo Dog, are enjoying their love nest, protecting the bronzed statues of Jody and Tommy. But when Abby’s BFF, an emo Goth by the name of Jared, accidentally frees Jody from her bronze prison while re-enacting a fight scene from his as of yet unwritten novel while wearing Abby’s high heeled Skankenstein boots, things go from weird to worse.

Jody and Tommy have been encased in bronze for five weeks. Able to turn herself into mist, Jody doesn’t mind the confinement so much. But Tommy, who had yet to learn that handy vampire trick before being bronzed, spends every night of his waking hours going slowly and quietly insane.

So when Jody tries to free Tommy, he goes stark raving mad. Jody goes out into the world of San Francisco to track Tommy down, but ends up having to find shelter before the sun comes up. She’s taken in by a warrior by the name of Otakka. He knows that he must keep the red haired woman safe.

Abby, meanwhile, continues on her quest to become a vampire while the notorious Foo Dog tries to find out if there is a way to turn someone from a vampire back into a human. As if that weren’t bad enough, Cavuto and Rivera, two cops who have become personally involved with saving the city a few times, have a new vampire plague on their hands: Vampre Cats.

It seems that Chet, the huge shaved cat we last saw in You Suck, has been ravaging the city of San Francisco and turning all the stray cats into vampires. A cat has to have a hobby, after all.

In order to fight this new threat and save the city, Jody must find Tommy and join forces with Abby, Food Dog, Jared, the Emperor of San Francisco, his dogs Bummer and Lazarus and the frozen turkey bowling Safeway crew.

Because the final battle is coming. And nothing can prepare them for what is about to happen when a horde of vampire hairballs descends upon the city….

Confused yet? Oh boy howdy! But remember, this isn’t a normal novel. This is a novel by genius comedic writer Christopher Moore.

Oh, Christopher Moore, how I love you. How I love your books. Moore’s books are really studies of the theatre of the absurd mixed with some Dave Berry, and perhaps some Anne Rice for good measure. In short, they are absolutely freaking brilliant.

Nothing goes as you expect it in a Christopher Moore novel, and Bite Me is no exception. However, one note of caution: If you are not familiar with the two novels that precede Bite Me, do not start here. The fun begins in Bloodsucking Fiends and continues in You Suck.

You could probably read Bite Me without reading the fist two books (Abby Von Normal does give us a confusing recap of the last two books in the first chapter) but why would you want to? Read the first two books if you want to get to know these characters.

Personally, I think Bite Me is one of Moore’s best novels. My top favourites are Bloodsucking Fiends and then Fool, but Bite Me comes a close third. In the third book in his vampire trilogy, Moore has pulled out all the stops and is going for broke. Thankfully it works.

The book is a laugh a minute, frenzied race to the finish. Not only does it have the same Christopher Moore humour, but it’s also a great look into what makes people human, what drives the human heart. Though it was funny, I was surprised by how dark the book was, how insightful and thought provoking it was. More than just another funny read, Bit Me is a dark look at what love can bring you and what it can take away.

No matter how you look at it, Bite Me is a winner in every way and one of the best books of 2010 so far. If you haven’t read it, or Bloodsucking Fiends or You Suck, read them now.

I’ll have some blood waiting for you…

Prelude to a Super Airplane by Brian Spaeth

22 Mar

 

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Almost everyone has flown on an airplane at least once in their lives. They are huge and intimidating, able to conquer the skies and the power of flight. Everyone has fantasized about being able to fly, about being able to fly through the clouds.

But none of us have flown on a super airplane: 47 floors high and able to fly at incredible speeds. But it is the people concerned with the airplane that are our focus here, the ones that think about airplanes constantly that draw our attention.

The year is 2012 and America is on the verge of Civil War. One side wants flying cars to be the main method of transportation; the other wants the new super airplane to be the only method of transport. At stake in this war? The entire future of transportation.

Our world as we know it will be forever changed…

Prelude to a Super Airplane is unlike anything you have read before. More literary experiment than a novel, Prelude to a Super Airplane is essentially one hundred and seven little stories about airplanes. Some follow the plot that you’ve just read above.

Others, well…did I mention that this was unlike anything you’ve read before?

Spaeth wrote Prelude to a Super Airplane over a period of seven days. And man what a ride! Though the book zooms along and sometimes you’re wondering who you’re reading about, it doesn’t matter.

This is a book with a sense of humour that never takes itself very seriously. It’s a quick, roller coaster of a ride that is anything but boring.

In fact, I laughed out loud several times and enjoyed every word. It really is unlike anything ever before attempted and this is part of the novels strengths.

Though sometimes the stories of the characters get lost amongst the more autobiographical portions of the book, you’re holding on for sheer life as the pages seem to flip themselves.

Even though Prelude to a Super Airplane is more literary experiment than a novel, it’s one hell of a good time. I’ve never had so much fun reading a book. From the first page, I was intrigued and, by the third page, I was hooked.

Prelude to a Super Airplane promises to be the first comedy-political thriller – mystery- drama-romance-action/adventure-science fiction-showbiz insider- horror-family energy drink- industry insider- holiday autobiography, Prelude to a Super Airplane is one hell of a great ride.

At times confusing, intriguing, hilarious, bizarre and all kinds of wonderful, Prelude to a Super Airplane is THE beach book for this summer.

Read it and feel like you’re flying.

Remember Me? By Sophie Kinsella

22 Jan

 

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Lexi Smart is having a bad go of things.

She didn’t get a bonus from work, her boyfriend Loser Dave has stood her up for the millionth time and her father has just died. She has a dead end job that’s going nowhere, has frizzy hair and bad teeth. She knows that something has to change soon.

Unfortunately, that change comes in the form of a car accident.

Upon waking up in the hospital, Lexi is a new woman. Her bad teeth are replaced with white shiny ones, her frizzy hair is now sleek and lovely and she has a new job as director of her own department.

Hang on, that can’t be right, can it?

Lexi quickly learns that she has amnesia and she’s forgotten the last three years of her life. Her mother has gotten older, her younger sister is now sixteen and she has a husband named Eric she doesn’t remember marrying.

As Lexi tries to get used to her new life, she’s in for a few rude awakenings. None of her friends talk to her any longer, she’s become the bitch boss from hell and, if that’s not bad enough, it seems she’s been having an affair with Jon, a sexy, and very handsome, architect.

Lexi will have to act quickly otherwise her entire new life will start to crumble. But that could be exactly what she needs to remember everything….

I am a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella. Every time I open one of her novels, I know that I’m in for a laugh out loud read that fills me with joy. Her books are always funny, touching in all the right places and just plain fun.

I was not disappointed with Remember Me? In fact, this is Kinsella’s best effort yet. Lexi is an improvement on past leading women that Kinsella has written. Instead of being a little bit daft and slightly dumb, Lexi is smart and intuitive and very intelligent. It’s a breath of fresh air to read about a protagonist who isn’t silly or over the top.

The secondary characters are better fleshed out in Remember Me? as well. Lexi’s dog loving mother is a riot and Eric, charming husband as he is, is absolutly hysterical. Kinsella constantly pens people that are real, people you know. People you love to hate and people you root for.

Remember Me? is not as laugh out loud funny as her other books. However, rather than taking away from the book, I feel that this is one of the book’s strengths. The story is a lot more personal and introspective than her usual fare, and a lot more heartfelt. Because of this you may not laugh as much but you’ll cry a little. Have a box of tissues handy.

Remember Me? is a funny, heart breaking romp through memory, life, love and lust and I loved every blessed page. I think it’s Kinsellsa’s best effort yet. It’s fun, fresh and fabulous – absolutely perfect in every way.

Pick yourself up a copy and get one for your best friend. You won’t be sorry and, thankfully, you’ll remember it once you’ve finished reading.

 

Real Women Wear Red by Kathy Holmes

3 Oct

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Real Women Wear Red

Kathy Holmes

Lulu Books

2007

  

www.kathyholmes.net

  

Kate “Cyn” Francis is in a frump.

  

Unlucky at love, Cyn wonders if her second chance at love will ever come along. At forty five, it’s been years since she’s had a man in her bed and love in her heart. Her ex, a big fake, turned out to be more lust than love and Cyn wonders if love is possible for women over forty.

  

At the behest of her close friend Maggie, Cyn decides to take drastic action and change her life. Her old one sure isn’t working for her. She dyes her hair, changes her name and her age and heads out on a Caribbean cruise. On a boat full of men, there’s got to be one Mr. Right among them. Right?

  

Instead of Mr. Right, Cyn meets two other single women who are also looking for love: the beautiful Sandy Brown is traveling the cruise trying to mend her broken heart. Divorced and self-conscious, she is also looking for love, hoping that she can find someone to make her feel love again.

  

There’s also Millie Evans. Having sold her publishing empire, Millie is on a succession of one week cruises looking to find her long lost love. A widow after losing her husband, Millie searches for the man she met years ago on a cruise. Even though it is an impossible task, Millie hopes to find the man she loved and walked away from.

  

When these three women board the S.S. Platinum Queen, they have no idea that their lives are about to change forever. They come together in a time of need for each of them and find each other. Before they can find love, however, they will have to learn to love themselves.

  

But, thankfully, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished with friendship, more than a few martinis’s and lots of red. A real woman does wear red after all….

  

I absolutely loved this book. Without a doubt, it was THE best chick lit book that I’ve read in years. It has everything you could possibly need in a chick lit book: girlfriends, a search for love, martini’s, sandy beaches and sexy men.

  

But, really, Real Women Wear Red is so much more than sandy beaches and sexy men. The novel is about love, loss and the courage it takes to move on with your life. It’s also about the strength needed to look inside yourself be honest with who you are.

  

What I loved most about Real Women Wear Red is the fact that these women are real. I felt for them, ached for them, laughed with them. I felt like I knew them, like I had known them for years. When I finished the novel, I felt as if these women were my friends, my confidantes. In short, I felt for them.

  

It’s not every author that can accomplish this. Most chick lit is peopled by cardboard cut out characters that all sound and talk alike. Likewise, the plot is usually the standard girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl pines for boy, boy comes back to girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love chick lit, but it’s rare to find something that fits in the mold and also goes beyond the genre at the same time.

  

But Holmes has created three very distinct women surrounded by an incredible plot that will take you on the ride of your life. She has done the impossible: created a chick lit novel that transcends the genre and, instead, becomes something else all its own.

  

Real Women Wear Red is a fast, fantastic read and I loved every word. You will laugh, you’ll cry and then you’ll laugh again. This is not your average chick lit. Do yourself a favor and read it, won’t you?

   

You Suck by Christopher Moore

28 Feb

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 For those of you who have yet to read a book by Christopher Moore, what are you waiting for? Moore writes hilarious tales that are laugh out loud funny and so very enjoyable. The characters are fresh, funny and delightfully flawed. When you read a Christopher Moore book, you’ll feel better and your health will improve. I’m not sure this is medically proven, but I’m sure it’s true.

I always await a new Moore novel with anticipation matched only by Harry Potter. Yes, his books are just THAT good. If you like great reads that will make you laugh so hard you’ll spit out your morning coffee, his books are for you.

YOU SUCK is actually the first time that Moore has written a sequel, but don’t worry, you don’t need to read the first boo (Bloodsucking Fiends) to be able to read this delightful caper. YOU SUCK finds young C. Thomas Flood turned into a vampire by his hot redhead girlfriend Jody. Being nineteen when he was turned, he’s stuck with a teenager’s libido for the rest of eternity, but they have bigger problems on their hands.

Tommy’s friends, The Animals, have been clued in to the fact that he’s now a vampire. Led by an ex stripper with dyed blue skin named, duh, Blue, they will be coming after Tommy and Jody whether they want to or not. Tommy and Jody must flee, find a new apartment, find a minion (who shows up in the form of Abby Normal, a Goth Girl who wants the dark gift) and figure out what to do with Elijah, the vampire who turned Jody and who is sitting in their living room encased in bronze.

As if this all weren’t bad enough, Tommy must learn how to be a vampire, how to blend in and how to have copious amounts of hot sweaty monkey sex. A vampire’s work is never done…

This book is laugh out loud hilarious. I’ve laughed out loud several times while reading this delightful tale and had several people look at me funny, which happens when you laugh out loud in public. The only problem with this book is that it’s too short!

That’s alright, I’ll just have to read it all over again when I’m finished. If you haven’t read any Christopher Moore books yet, pick up YOU SUCK. It’s delightful and, thankfully, doesn’t suck at all.