Can what you read as a child mold your personality? Or are you drawn to certain images, books, and movies from birth?
When I was a kid, I had a collection of books called Sweet Pickles. I loved these books because inside the front cover was a list of all the animals who lived in the town, A-Z. Inside the back cover, there was a map of the whole town with labels on each building to tell you where each animal lived along with key buildings like the bank, the hospital etc... If you were a dorky kid like me, you would read the book and then when the rabbit when to work, you’d quickly flip to the back, find rabbit’s house, and trace the path to the bank. Yes, I know I’m a nerd.
A few years ago, my friends were making fun of me about how I love to make schedules, lists, and generally plan out everything. This instantly put me in mind of Rabbit from the Sweet Pickles series. Rabbit is the busy kind of bloke who has a large schedule on his wall of what he is going to do the whole day. When I was a kid, I could stare at that schedule for hours. Yes, again, I know I am a nerd.
I ended up finding the book, Rest Rabbit Rest, on ebay and bought it immediately. Showing it to my friends, I said, “See? Look… there is someone as crazy as me, who likes schedules and task listing!” After they reminded me the “someone” was an overgrown rabbit in a track suit, they also pointed out that the story Rest Rabbit Rest is about his friends trying to get him to slow down. They all thought it was an excellent illustration of how someone who has tons of schedules is insane. When Rabbit’s friends finally get him to rest, he is calm and happy. And then ten seconds later he’s making a schedule again. A lot of people think this tale is about needing to slow down and smell the roses. Besides the fact that flowers make me sneeze, I found the true moral of the story was that you can’t change someone’s nature. And if you’re a real friend, you won’t try. Leave me to my schedules and time pieces and go on with your bad lazy self!
I’ll leave you with one final thought and that’s the line on the last page of Rest Rabbit Rest. “Rest is a sensible idea,” said Rabbit. “And I will… as soon as I make a resting schedule.”
Rest Rabbit Rest was written by Jacquelyn Reinach & illustrated by Richard Hefter
To learn more about the Sweet Pickles books and find out which Sweet Pickles character you might be, go to the Wikipedia link here.
Can what you read as a child mold your personality? Or are you drawn to certain images, books, and movies from birth?
EmzChat with Mike Bennett
With a voice that can chill your bones and a personality that draws in his listeners, Mike Bennett is on his way to becoming the finest horror storyteller our generation has known. Mike has oodles of creepy short stories included in his podcast Hall of Mirrors and reads other classic horror tales on his podcast called Sometimes. Mike grew up as a Science Fiction fan in England. He currently resides in Ireland where he is a teacher, but when the lights go out – or sometimes even during daylight – Mike becomes the macabre voice behind the mic bringing us such gems as Hair and Skin and his newest vampire novel, Underwood and Flinch. I was fortunate to be able to ask Mike some questions recently about fandom, his life, and what scared him as a child. EM: What were you a fan of as a kid? MB: Spiderman, The New X-Men (well, they were 'new' then, now they're just The X-Men), Batman, James Herbert's Rats Trilogy, especially the last one, "Domain". I also loved Man from UNCLE paperbacks. I still have a complete set. Doctor Who (70s), Marine Boy, The Persuaders, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Starsky and Hutch.
EM: Who might you turn fanboy for today? MB: I met Tom (Dr. Who) Baker once. I nearly fainted. I was working in a bookshop and he came in to see if we were selling his book, The Boy Who Kicked Pigs. Fortunately, we had it in stock. I showed him around and got him to sign a copy.
EM: What was the first real life experience that freaked you the hell out? MB: Being relentlessly pursued - and finally bitten - by a horsefly.
EM: When you were researching for Underwood and Flinch, what kinds of tools did you use? MB: I lived in a small Andalucian town for six months. That gave me the insight into how a place like Almacena and its inhabitants worked. For vampire background, I watched all the Hammer Dracula movies (not exactly research, I know, but I enjoyed myself) and read Christopher Fraying's book, Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula. I also re-read Dracula.
EM: Is there any project that caused you more work than you were expecting? What would you do differently? MB: Underwood and Flinch is a write-to-podcast affair. I began podcasting it as soon as I'd completed a rough first draft. In hindsight, I'd prefer to have completely finished the book first and had an editor look it over and then I'd have implemented the edits and done another draft and so on and so on. But then again, the probability is, I wouldn't have done the whole editor thing and later re-writes. If I hadn't started podcasting it when I did, I mightn't have ever taken the project any further. I would have more likely started work on something else and come back to U&F later - maybe. Maybe not. I don't know.
EM: How did you get involved in The Parent Vac project and what possessed you to become a vacuum salesman and an undead dad on film? MB: My wife and I went down to Wexford to visit some friends, and someone said, 'Let's make a movie'. I was given the task of making up the story, so I looked around to see what props we had. We had a vacuum cleaner and a hat. I threw the story together and we improvised the lines over one or two takes.
Manga Review: Alice in the Country of Hearts by Quinrose
Alert: Herbivores beware, rabbit discrimination! Warn your kits!
“These aren’t rabbit ears! They’re just long! I swear I am not a rabbit. I eat carrot cookies, cake, and tea. I like stuff made from carrots but I could never eat a carrot straight, so I’m obviously NOT a rabbit.”
The first thing that drew me to these beautiful books was the art. Illustrated by Soumei Hoshino, the detailed display of clocks, sweets, architecture, and fashion is phenomenal.
I think any Alice lover will enjoy the new twists on our most beloved story. First, Alice is not the Alice we know. Instead of being curious and following the white rabbit, he tricks her into falling down the hole and then traps her in wonderland by force-feeding her a potion through a kiss. She finds herself in a land where everyone has a clock for a heart and they are fighting a war based on reincarnation. The characters are so detailed and interesting, I’m not even sure I can pick my favorite one.
Our favorite Mad Hatter in this book is Blood Dupre, a Mafia Don who leads The Hatters in war against the other factions. He is a gothic dandy, more interested in seducing Alice than the battle at hand. In his posse are two young boys dressed in fashionable military outfits and a non-rabbit enforcer named Elliot March. Something this author picked up on from the Lewis Carroll book, that I never thought of was the possibility of the White Rabbit and the March Hare fighting. I found this storyline beyond amusing.
Another sect of Wonderland is the Amusement Park District where Alice can enjoy all the normal sort of rides while being shuffled around the place by overly peppy park attendants. The owner of the park is Mary Gowland, an older hippie man who takes to drastic mood swings and plays the violin very badly. Gowland and Dupre are in a war because Dupre makes fun of his name, which when said in such a way, sounds like Merry Go Round. The fights between Gowland and Dupre are fun to read. Gowland can turn his violin into a gun and Dupre doesn’t even flinch when his hat gets shot off.
Boris Airay plays the part of the Cheshire cat. A cosplay kitty boy who loves to get in scrapes. He is often found by Alice, in the woods, sometimes nude, with horrible injuries that heal when he licks them.
The Queen of Hearts is pretty much the same as in the original Alice story so far, not much is known about her yet. The caterpillar is Nightmare, a handsome, eye-patched man dressed in elegant blacks. He mainly just gives more info to Alice, explaining terms the wonderland folk use and adding a sense of foreboding as he hints at dangers unseen.
Two new characters to the Alice tale are perhaps the most interesting. Julius Monrey is in charge of the Clock Tower Plaza, a neutral zone in wonderland and the place where all clock hearts are repaired. Ace is a knight from Heart Castle that helps Julius recover the hearts when someone is killed. He seems a double agent, but can’t navigate to save his life. Not too smart, you might think he would fall prey to the Hatters, but he is a pro at sword fighting so that keeps him safe.
Even though this is a manga about the cheery, happy world of wonderland, the author keeps that sinister air about it so that you are just as curious and frightened as Alice. The most chilling part of this retelling is the connection between the shadow people and the servants with no face. I’ll let you unravel that one on your own.
I’m excited to tell you that the third book in the series is coming out on June 1st, just in time for my birthday! Volume four should release in August.
Check out these awesome books at Amazon.com.
Manga Review: Vampire Game by Judal
Vampire Game didn’t irritate me enough to give it a bad review, but it didn’t wow me either. Although I didn’t enjoy it, my best friend loves it. Maybe I should put it this way... If you enjoy talking cats, silly jokes, and a princess preoccupied with getting into trouble, you’ll like Vampire Game.
You might ask yourself, "If Emz didn’t like it, why did she read beyond volume one?" Well, it was a discount buyers mistake all the way. One day while shopping, I expected to pass by the little manga kiosk with nothing but a groan because I had spent my book money on skeleton leg warmers. To my surprise, they were having a manga sale. So, if you think about it, Vampire Game is a manga worth a buck a volume and if you run into a manga sale like that, grab it up! For the rest of you, read this little review before you spend your hard-earned cash.
The story: A once great vampire king named Duzell led a war against humans. The king of the humans used a spell to defeat Duzell. One hundred years later, Duzell has been reborn as a wildcat who falls into the hands of a princess named Ishtar who likes to get in trouble. A cute bodyguard named Darres is charged with making sure she doesn't get into trouble and boy does he earn his keep! Though she is being courted by the most eligible princes in the land, you get the feeling Darres is her romantic prospect.
Here are some highlights from the series:
- Volume one: This was the beginning of the end for me. The cat is irritating and talks. The art reminded me of bible story cartoons from when I was a child.
- Volume two: The tale starts to get a tad interesting as we learn that Duzell the cat, can turn into a human if they drink that human’s blood. Since Dunzell drank from Ishtar, he becomes a clone of her. There is a great sword competition where he is able to fight.
- Volume three: The sword competition continues. We finally see this tale’s version of vampires which look like Hellraiser characters with no skin.
- Volume four: We get to see some ghouly demons. My favorite quote from the whole series is in this volume, said by the princess of a neighboring kingdom. “Dad! There’s this really hot naked weirdo in the stable and he was fooling around with your horse.”
- Volume five: Scary mermaids show up who have wings and sharp teeth.
- Volume six: The story for me finally gets good. The whole castle is in chaos as the monsters are allowed to come on grounds and to flood out of the dungeon. Another good quote, this time from a warrior. “For the record I am not cleaning this mess up. These guys smell bad enough now, I don’t want to think about when they start to stiffen!”
I am not a fan of this sort of art and since it started in 1996, it is in the older style. I wouldn’t suggest buying this manga unless you want to spend hours reading many pages to get to that one funny joke or cool monster sequence.
Get your copy here from Amazon
To learn more about Vampire Game, by someone who likes this series, visit http://www.princessishtar.com/
Review: Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz
Masquerade is the exciting sequel to Melissa’s Blue Bloods novel. In the first book, fashionable teens from the exclusive Duchesne school learn they are vampires and begin to discover their powers. To read more about the first book, read my review on Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz. The sequel begins in Italy where one of our favorite Blue Bloods, Schuyler, is trying to find her long lost grandfather. She hopes he will solve the mystery of Silver Bloods that have been preying on teen vamps in New York City. This book starts a little slow and I was disappointed that there was a summary of things that happened right after the first book that we must have missed. However, once Schuyler returns to New York, things really take off. The return of Jack Force as the love interest is interesting and full of romantic tension. Schuyler also starts to fall for her best friend Oliver. When she decides to drink from him, then the real complications begin.
Rather than spoiling this tale by giving away more secrets, I'd like to offer something for you who have not been tempted enough to read it yet. As I read this book it became more apparent to me that it is similar to the Harry Potter series. I don't mean to say it is a copy or that Melissa is borrowing ideas. This is an excellent tale about vampires that have originated from angels, set in a fashionable New York prep school. However, for those of you that are Potter fans, here are some things you can look forward to in this series.
|Harry Potter has....||Masquerade has...|
|Harry Potter||Schuyler Van Alen, a half-blood vampire girl born to an ancient vampire family that has fallen on hard times.|
|Sirius Black||Lawrence Van Alen, Schuyler's grandfather who was exiled from the Blue Bloods many years ago.|
|Lord Voldemort - The Dark Mark Death Eaters||Silver Bloods, vampires who feed on other vampires and have a symbol on the back of their neck.|
|Draco Malfoy||Popular kid from an old vampire family who once followed the evil path. He likes to show off his powers and play tricks on muggles. Ahem... mortals.|
|Harry's lessons with Snape to protect against evil magic.||Vampire lessons with grandfather to protect Schuyler from Silver Bloods.|
|Ministry of Magic||The Conclave, an underground society that governs the vampires, holds trials, and decides what happens to evil doers.|
|12 Grimmauld Place Scary old house that belongs to Sirius Black's family line.||The Van Alen mansion, a dark and closed up house with covers over the furniture, where Schuyler lives.|
|Harry Potter is left to fend for himself after all the magical adults in his family perish.||Schuyler is left to fend for herself after her grandmother dies because her father is dead and mom is in coma.|
|A library with a forbidden books section.||An underground library where a bad kid steals a forbidden book to cast Silver Blood spells.|
|A final confrontation where only Harry Potter can save the day.||A final confrontation where only Schuyler can save the day.|
After all those similarities, you'd think this series has nothing new to offer. Yet, the Blue Bloods series is an original look at vampires as a species and is chalk full of American history. So for those of you who like Potter, you may want to give it a try. As an older read, it has more to do with relationships, love, and peer pressure than the Potter series where it seems good and evil are more black and white.
The First Vampyre Tale, 1819
Recently, while doing research for a horror book discussion, I found an article on Wikipedia that talked about the first vampire fiction. According to Wikipedia, “The literary vampire first appeared in eighteenth century poetry, before becoming one of the stock figures of gothic fiction with the publication of John William Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819), which was inspired by the life and legend of Lord Byron.” In an attempt to find more about it, I ran across a website that had The Vampyre in text format. I was so excited, I almost injured myself trying to click fast enough on the link! Let me tell you about this awesome find.
If you can get past the many typos that this free online text has, it is worth the read for any vampire fan. At times I did have to read a sentence twice because of the old English language and the run on sentences. It has almost no dialogue, which for some can be a trial. However, to be able to read a piece of work that has inspired so many awesome vampire books is amazing. It’s almost like watching an old silent movie. There’s something about the art of it that allows you to soak up ambience you don’t always get in modern fast-paced tales.
The Vampyre, though original in its day, is predictable. Lord Ruthven, the vampyre, is a gambler, womanizer, and known throughout the ton for “hurling young ladies from the pinnacle of unsullied virtue, down to the lowest abyss of infamy and degradation”. Got to love that language. There is an innocent gentleman, Mr. Aubrey, who travels with Lord Ruthven. When Aubrey finds out about his friend’s “licentious habits that are dangerous to society” he distances himself and attempts to go on with his life. Aubrey soon learns that you can’t just walk away with out injury as the vampyre maliciously attempts to ruin all that is good in his world on the false pretense of being his closest and dearest friend.
My favorite section of this tale is when a woman tells of vampires and what they are known to do.
…often as she told him the tale of the living vampyre, who had passed years amidst his friends, and dearest ties, forced every year, by feeding upon the life of a lovely female to prolong his existence for the ensuing months, his blood would run cold, but lathe cited to him the names of old men, who had at last detected one living among themselves, after several of their near relatives and children had been found marked with the stamp of the fiend’s appetite…
You can enjoy this tale yourself, by going to: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/6087