#856 Zom B by Darren Shan

 Zom B by Darren Shan Zom B by Darren Shan

Becky goes to school, but she’s not a model student nor a model human being. Her father is a violent racist who often hits her mother. There have been news reports of zombies in Ireland and no one knows where the zombies came from. Everyone is scared the zombies might end up in their town. Becky was supposed to stay inside one evening, but she went out with her trouble-making friends, all with various “thug” names. Unfortunately, the zombies were out as well.

The kids try to get away from the zombies by going into the school, but the zombies are there too. There’s even some mutant zombies, that seem to actually use their brains. No one knows what the deal is. Becky’s racist dad shows up with a gun, but someone is preventing the living from getting away by measures that zombies are usually too stupid for.

What I liked

“Zom B” is kind of a cute name, I guess.

What I didn’t like

I am not a fan of zombies in the first place. They’re a stupid monster and I’m tired of the zombie craze that we’re having right now. Get another monster.

Becky is awful. Her dad is awful. Becky is old enough and smart enough to know the things her dad says are wrong. Becky knows the things her dad says are hurtful and not at all politically correct. One might thing Becky would take a hint from this and act completely different. Nope. Becky is racist. In this generation, it’s just silly to be racist. We know people who are different colors aren’t really any different from us. The only differences are created artificially by how society treats people who aren’t white. It’s so annoying that Becky knows this is wrong, but she goes along with it anyway.

She’s also a brat, who is irresponsible and headed for a bad end.

Overall

Maybe some people deserve to get eaten by zombies, but if a stupid person turns into a zombie, don’t you just get a really stupid zombie?

Weigh In

If your parents had undesirable and wrong opinions about things, did you adopt those opinions, or use them as a lesson not to act that way?

Do wild teenagers like Becky ever make the status quo in life?

#816 Due Date by Lee Isserow

Due Date by Lee IsserowDue Date by Lee Isserow

Nina comes home one day to find that her wife, Lisa, is missing. Lisa hasn’t just went shopping, she’s been kidnapped. The problem is compounded by the fact that Lisa is pregnant and due any day. It’s not long before the kidnapper calls. He wants fifty thousand pounds. Nina scrounges up what she can from her bank accounts and then asks friends for money. Her family was no help.

She gives the money to the kidnapper and attempts to follow him, but it doesn’t end well. The kidnapper demands another fifty-thousand pounds. Up until this point, Nina has had no idea who would be out to kidnap her wife. Who would go through the trouble? Sure, Nina and Lisa are gay, but is that really enough to warrant a kidnapping of a very pregnant woman?

There’s more to the story though. Nina demands proof of life from the kidnappers. She wants to talk to Lisa. When she does, she knows who has taken Lisa. Can she get Lisa out in time? What about the baby?

What I liked

This book was  certainly fast-paced. It was twisty and a bit turny. I had no idea who had kidnapped Lisa, until the back story came out.

What I didn’t like

This is not a happy book. Sure, it’s interesting and fast-paced, but it’s not happy. There may not be enough meat in this book to keep a serious reader satisfied.

There is a pretty large part of this book that hinges on the idea of Nina and Lisa being gay, rather than this story happening to have gay characters, if that makes sense. If the fact that these two characters are gay was just accepted as who these people are, the book would be minus some drama, a lot of drama actually. In this book, it seems to be just as important as the fact that somebody got kidnapped. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m not sure.

I think it’s cruel of someone to kidnap another person and then demand money. Like someone isn’t going to catch you? How many kidnappers who demand ransom are caught? I would hazard that more kidnappers who demand ransom are caught than kidnappers who just flat-out kidnap people. You’re leaving clues. Your calls are being traced and triangulated. Your letters are being fingerprinted. Your IP address is being traced. You really think someone is going to give you a bunch of money and you’re going to get away to spend it? Fat chance. I’m sure it happens every once in a while, but I think more kidnappers who demand ransom end up in prison or dead, than they do on the beaches of Jamaica, or wherever.

To top that off, who has that kind of money? Not middle-class working people. Heck, not even the lower-upper-class have that much money lying around. Any person who takes someone’s relative and then demands a ton of money for ransom is both an idiot and a jerk.

Overall

Makes you a bit paranoid about being kidnapped.

Weigh In

How would you feel if someone kidnapped one of your loved ones?

Do you think kidnapping is a crime that pays?

#784 After Alice by Gregory Maguire

After Alice by Gregory MaguireAfter Alice by Gregory Maguire

Alice goes to Wonderland, but was she the only one? Couldn’t someone else fall down that rabbit hole just as easily as Alice did? Well, someone did. At first, Alice thought that she might be someone else, but she wasn’t. She knew she wasn’t Ada, because Ada was too unwieldy. She went on as Alice in the world of Wonderland.

In the meantime, Ada wanders away from her governess and finds herself down the very same rabbit hole that Alice went, but things are a bit different for Ada because Ada actually is a bit cumbersome. She has a bit of a disability and cannot move easily.

Ada soon encounters doors that stand in the middle of nothing and all sorts of strange people. There’s a strange tea party. There’s a mad queen.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Alice’s sister Lydia is finding life uncomfortable. Her mother died recently and her father is having a meeting with Charles Darwin. He’s brought with him a man named Mr. Winter, who has brought with him an escaped slave named Siam.

Siam soon tires of everything as well. He wonders into the drawing-room. There he finds a mirror on a mantle and decides to go right on through. He ultimately finds himself in the same place Alice and Ada found themselves. Where did everyone end up in Wonderland? Will they get back to the real world? What about that  governess? Can one stay in Wonderland indefinitely?

What I liked

I like pretty much everything that Gregory writes. I love how he looks at traditional stories and thinks up new  back stories for the characters in traditional stories. He gives life to characters that may have only had a brief mention in the traditional story. Ada was mentioned in the Alice books, but a mention was all she got.

I do like that other people went to Wonderland. Why should Alice be the only person to experience it?

What I didn’t like

I quite enjoyed it. Sometimes Gregory’s writing style is a little ethereal, and I don’t mean in a good way. I mean it flows, but in a flighty manner. It’s a bit difficult to keep up with at times. It’s kind of like you’re hearing the story second-hand by listening over someone’s shoulder.

This story isn’t quite as edgy as some of Gregory’s other stories.

Overall

What happened to Ada after she went back?

Weigh In

Would you go to Wonderland if you had the chance?

Would you be Ada?

#741 The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham

The White Cottage Mystery by Margery AllinghamThe White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham

The White Cottage is a nice little house, but there’s another house next door, which is not as favored by those in the village, and even by anyone who knows the owner of the other house. The man’s name is Eric and no one likes him. One day, detective Jerry, is on a drive when he meets a young woman who works near by. The house Eric lives in is a strange one, looking almost like a hospital or official building rather than a home. Not long after Jerry drops the maid off, there are screams and commotion.

Eric is dead. Shot. Half his head is pretty much missing.

What follows is a chase, across England and Europe for Eric’s killer. Was it his associate? Was it his servant? Was it the neighbors? Who the heck was it? All in all, there are probably around seven suspects, all with reasons to kill Eric. He was just a terrible person who was fond of the idea of blackmail. He knew things, about everyone and liked to keep a watch on them all. In the end, the murderer was someone who didn’t personally have anything against Eric, but associated him with Satan.

What I liked

This story started out pleasant enough. It reminded me immensely of Sherlock Holmes stories, although the detectives in this story lack that mental pizzazz that Sherlock has. It seemed traditional. If you were to watch an old mystery movie, back from the fifties, forties, whenever, this is the kind of story you might get. That all makes sense because this book was originally, serially, published in 1927.

There is apparently a whole series based on the detectives in these books. I’m not sure that I would read the whole series.

What I liked

I started getting lost with this story. In one instance one person would be interviewed by the detectives and I would wonder who in the heck the person was. Where did this suspect come from? What evidence has linked this person to the crime scene? If you took your time with this book, I’m sure you’d find it good enough, but I believe you have to pay quite a bit of attention with this book. You can’t look away for a moment. The writing style is so sparse, one sentence, two sentences, could mean missing something important. I can’t say whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing, because it is a matter of taste, but it is certainly something a person should be aware of.

Overall

I kind of like the who in this whodunit.

Weigh In

If you were to write a traditional mystery, what would your mystery be about?

Would it not be hilarious if you substituted in a cookie theft for murder in some of these old mystery books?

P.S. Margery Allingham is such a British name. I guess I can’t really say much with a name like Arterberry though.

#718 The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

He remembers having his own room in the house that is now gone. For a time, there wasn’t enough money and his room was let out. It was also during this time that he remembers kissing g Lettie Hempstock. She was older, eleven, and he was only seven.

There had been several boarders. The worst one for a while was an opal miner who brought death with him and also something more. The opal miner’s actions set a strange series of events into play. It was during this time that he met the Hempstocks. There were three of them, the grandmother, the mother, and Lettie. They had always been there.

Lettie took him to a strange place and told him to hold onto her hand. She showed him her ocean, which looked like a plain old farm pond. Oceans could be whatever size they needed to be. It was during.g this strange trip that he brought something back with him. One thing was a cat he pulled right out of the ground, another was a strange thing in his foot.

He tried to get rid of the strange thing, but it came back in a form his parents were pleased with. It said the right words and sought to keep him locked away, or dead. The boy got away from it one night and it was Lettie and her family who helped him get rid of it and the things that came after it.

Memories are a strange thing though and events seem to be different depending on who remembers them.

What I liked

Neil, of course, is his wonderful whimsical and mysterious self having written this book. With Neil, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get, but it’s always going to walk the border of reality and a great, mysterious could-be magical or supernatural world right under our noses.

I really like the idea of something old and powerful, unexplained by our laws of science, or even religion, existing right along beside us, in our modern-day world. I think it would make the world a much more interesting place, if it were true.

Sometimes weird stuff does happen in our lives. Is it better to say that we don’t have an answer for the weird things, or should we entertain the idea that something did cause it to happen; it’s just not something our world can explain?

The boy’s family is normal, or so it seems, and as a normal family the explain away all the weirdness with worldly and logical answers, even if those answers are less likely than an answer that involves a strange, unseen world.

I think we should all be able to have whimsy in our lives. I think we should all be able to suggest that perhaps our answers are not the readily explainable kind.

What I didn’t like

This book was pretty great.

Overall

That pond could be an ocean.

Weigh in

In your life, has there ever been a time when an off-the-wall, even supernatural answer, was the more likely answer over the answer that people have you?

Are you the kind of person who could accept a strange world existing in your modern world, or would you sent its existence to the last breath?