Book Review | Leviathan Wakes

“For thirty years, Miller had worked security. Violence and death were familiar companions to him. Men, women. Animals. Kids. Once he’d held a woman’s hand while she bled to death. He’d killed two people, could still see them die if he closed his eyes and thought about it. If anyone had asked him, he’d have said there wasn’t much left that would shake him. But he’d never watched a war start before.”

Leviathan Wakes is the first book in a series by James S. A. Corey. I first heard about this book by watching a show called The Expanse, which was based off this series. I made it through a few episodes and then decided I would like to read the books before continuing the show.

Leviathan Wakes started out good, then went to great…and then got better. I am always a fan of science fiction, and this book packed a lot of emotional energy in between some smooth technical descriptions of “spacey stuff”. Epstein drive? Coolest thing I’ve ever heard. And then about halfway through the book, we get…wait for it….

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

.

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zombies.

Yep. James S. A. Corey managed to combine space and zombies. Space zombies. That’s when I became totally hooked. If my attention was only half mast before, space zombies gave me a fully erect literature hard-on. I devoured the second half of the book. All books have those periods where they kind of slow down, you lose interest, you put the book down for a few days and don’t pick it back up. I hit that point with this book about 50% into it, and then hit that plot point and was fully committed to finishing as soon as possible.

And just when you thought you knew where the story was going, they throw in another little plot twist right around the final showdown. I didn’t see it coming, and I was pleasantly surprised. Can’t say I get a lot of that in books these days. Really, it was refreshing.

I loved the characters in this book. Amos is, of course, a fan favorite. The funny guy that everyone loves. I waited with bated breath to see if he survives the whole length of the book and…well, you’ll have to read it to find out. But my favorite character in the whole book was Miller. Holden might have been the MC, but Miller stood out as one of the most dynamic characters. I felt for him like a drunk uncle. I wanted him to be happy, whatever the hell that meant for him. And I was so thankful to know that in the end, he gets exactly what he wants. Sigh of satisfaction.

However, like all books these days, I feel like this was written more as a screenplay than an actual novel. It was heavy on dialogue and scene descriptions in a way that would work great for a tv show (which it did end up becoming). I could even hear a little of my own writer’s voice in the way he phrased things and thought to myself, “funny, I could have written something like this”, which was an interesting way to critique my own work.

Should you read it?

Yep! It was enjoyable, engaging, and even humorous at times. And if you are a fan of Resident Evil or Dead Space, you’re going to love this. Not for the faint of heart. There are gruesome descriptions about bodyparts skittering around on the ground and stomach bile floating in midair like a churning ocean. Reader beware!


Have you read it? Leave your thoughts down below!

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Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications! 

 

Gift Guide For When You Have No Idea What To Buy Them

Gifts are great! Gifts are even better when you know what to get someone, when you have that really specific thing that you just know they are going to love. But what happens when you have no damn idea what to buy them? You could get them a candle. Or some…shower gel or something else that is weirdly intimate. WASH YOUR BODY WITH THIS, YOU WILL SMELL LIKE ORANGES. YES I AM YOUR COWORKER. YES I WILL BE SNIFFING YOU TO SEE IF YOU USED MY GIFT. Or you can keep reading and discover a few gift ideas that you may not have considered.

  1. Flowers/plants/seeds
    1. This is something that isn’t going to sit around the house collecting dust. Gardening is a hobby that, if the gift-ee is already well accustomed to, will bring them a new thrill being able to plant and grow a new addition to their garden, and if the gift-ee has never tried gardening before, this present is a wonderful gateway into a new hobby. So you get the thrill of starting a new hobby, and also the excitement of planting something organic that is good for the environment!
  2. honey
    1. Honey is a great gift to give, especially if you are able to find some local or small business to purchase your delicious honey from. Not only are you supporting local bee keepers, but you also get to indulge in one of the sweets that nature provides. And the good thing about his? After it’s enjoyed, it doesn’t linger. You can repurpose the container (to perhaps start growing your new garden, mentioned above!) or recycle it!
  3. tea
    1. What goes beautifully with honey? A good tea! Again, it would be super cool to be able to find a small business to buy from, but one of my favorite teas is Twinings of the UK. (Cool fact, my mom met Mr. Twinings at Epcot and asked him “so have you been in business long?” And his very British response was “oh yes, for nearly the last three hundred years”). If you are a fan of the zodiac, you can find teas to correspond to your gift-ees astrological sign, each blended beautiful to fit the sign.
  4. handmade crafts
    1. Do you knit in your free time? Cross stitch? Make pottery? The time and effort put into a handmade craft gift are always appreciated by your loved ones. What would the holidays be without being forced to wear around Aunt Kathy’s first attempt at a sweater? Sure, it’s two sizes two small and has holes in the armpits, but she really really tried. And in a way, it’s kind of cute, and definitely warm. A little scratchy, but…you get the idea. It’s the thought that matters, and handmade crafts are always high up on the list of thoughtful.
  5. libations
    1. Stumped as to what to get someone? Really truly stumped? Are they recovering addicts? No? Sometimes, the best choice for a non-material present is a good bottle of wine. Don’t know much about wine? That’s ok! Just buy one with a cool label. These days there are all sorts of cool indie labels. You are sure to be able to find one to fit everyone you care about. Wine is also one of those things that, once it’s used, it’s gone. It doesn’t take up space. And if they are recovering addictions? Get them the ingredients for a virgin cocktail. Or a fun mix for hot chocolate. The possibilities are endless.
  6. charcuterie essentials
    1. This is one of my favorites, because I like food. I like salty food. I like food you can eat with a good bottle of wine. Enter, the charcuterie tray. You can easily piece together the essentials based on your gift-ees preferred tastes. Vegetarian? A fine hummus and some pretzel chips, along with some jarred olives and jams would do nicely. Carnivorous? Spicy pepperoni and a good salty cheese will go nicely with some jarred olives and jams too. You can eat this gift together with them. How delightful! And again, when it’s thoroughly enjoyed, it’s gone. No remnants of materialism that never gets used or appreciated. (You can even get really fancy and throw in some figs, dates, nuts, or anything else you can think of! As long as it follows the traditional ease of the charcuterie spread)
  7. Baked goods
    1. I learned how to differentiate the spelling of dessert from desert by remembering that with dessert, you always want more of it, therefore there are two S’s. And that is very true! Everyone loves dessert! If you have a knack for baking, I’m sure your friends would love a good cupcake or brownie tray. Just don’t mistakenly give them your batch of “special” goodies. And hello, who doesn’t love Christmas cookies?
  8. a donation to their favorite organization
    1. This one is really cool. Do you know if they are passionate about a certain cause? Are they humanitarians at heart? Do they love animals or helping those in need? Why not talk to them and see what organizations or foundations they feel passionately about? Not only will it give you an opportunity to get to know them even better, but you can help support a cause they care about.
  9. favor vouchers
    1. I used to do this when I was a kid. I would give my mom “favor vouchers” that she could cash in at any time. Things in the packet could include back rubs, cleaning, chores, cooking dinner, making dessert, going grocery shopping, painting their nails, or hugs! With this gift idea, you can decorate the packet however you want, with bright colorful crayons, watercolor, “cut here” dotted lines so they can “cash them in”, and many other options!
  10. artwork or a story
    1. If you are a creative person, I’m sure your loved ones really appreciate the things you can create. Therefore, a perfect low cost gift could be something artistic. Whether you are a painter, a sculptor, a jewelry maker, or a writer, there are endless gift possibilities. I can say there would be nothing I would cherish more than receiving a story for the holidays. Especially if it was tailored to me, like “how I would be described in a book”. So really get creative with this! Give them something one of a kind that they will love just as much as they love you.
  11. An experience
    1. Some of the best things in life are experiences. Instead of getting someone a candle, why not take them to a workshop or class on rock climbing, or story telling, or painting. Take them to a museum, or spend the day at the library hunting through the stacks for new and interesting books to read, pack a lunch and go to a park to enjoy a beautiful day of sunshine and fresh air and freezing cold snow. Memories are much better than materialistic things that might have served to make them happy at one point but soon fall into disuse. Memories are things they can keep forever.
  12. Used books
    1. I like this idea because, yes a book is something that sticks around for a while, but it doesn’t have to be. After you finish a book, unless you really really liked it, you can give it back to the used book store where it came from for someone else to enjoy. And buying used not only supports local businesses, but it also discourages the continued production of materialism. I think there’s something really magical about reading a used book anyways. Especially really really old books that have sat on so many bookshelves before yours. It’s enough to get your imagination going! Not to mention that buying used is much cheaper, so you can buy more books for the same cost as a new one. Who wouldn’t love that?
  13. A blank journal
    1. As opposed to a journal that is already filled…obviously. A journal is great because they can use it for so many different things. No matter what type of person they are or what they are into, everyone can use a nice new journal. Unless of course they are a dragon and already have a hoard of unused notebooks. In which case, let’s not feed that terrible addiction. Cheers?

That’s all for todays post! Leave your comments down below if you have any other suggestions for gift ideas. Or, contrariwise, comment with something you really really hope you get this year for the holidays! Wishlist shares are always fun.

Take Care, and don’t forget to take your medications!

Top 5 Tuesday | Tropes I’m Over

As a reader, writer, or general consumer of fiction, there are just certain things that rub you the wrong way. Whether it’s a cliché that’s been done to death, or a trending fad that seems to be found everywhere, some tropes need to be buried. Let them rest in peace. Resurrect some new ideas and incorporate something fresh into your work. Below is a list of the things that I’m totally over.

Assassins

Especially female assassins. This seems to be hugely popular at the moment in fantasy novels especially. Like, yes, I understand that being an assassin is a career choice, but it’s pretty dark, don’t you think? And while one or two stories are awesome, I feel like assassin stories are everywhere recently. Focusing on a character that has been trained to kill, while really cool, is also a little depressing, and I’m just sort of over it. Maybe this just means that my reading tastes are changing as I get older and read more.

Whitewashed horror movies

I am so over the white people horror movies. Specifically, the trope of a white middle class family moving into a new house that ends up being haunted. There are literally so many other story lines that can end in being stuck in a haunted house. I’d really like to see some variety here. The horror movies are so white washed, and have been since their birth. The most refreshing thing was seeing that Sabrina’s best friend in the new series is a woman of color. Can we get more of that please? (Also, can I just say that the new Sabrina series hits all the points that need to be hit in the best way possible. I love it so much.)

The one inept guard

This is a perfectly boring and lazy trope to write. Your heroes need to do something sneaky and the only way to get this thing done is to outsmart the one inept guard who either has no idea about the heroes antics, or is unable to shoot straight or keep up with our heroes. Yes, it can be funny if used right, but it’s lazy writing! It’s a plot-saver when you can’t think of any other way for your heroes to get away with something. I’d rather read or watch something where the guard knows the heroes are up to something, but because he’s human and not getting paid enough, allows them to continue on without stopping them, or asks for a bribe to keep his mouth shut, or actually succeeds in thwarting their super sneaky plan and forcing them to think of another way to get the thing done. Literally anything would be better than assuming the guard doesn’t know how to do his job, or worse, sleeps the whole time. Have you, in real life, seen a single guard fall asleep on the job? I haven’t. The guards are usually super nice, super human, and definitely not getting paid enough to chase after some trouble-making heroes. In fact, the closest to perfect representation of “inept guards” was in one of the new Star Wars movies, when Kylo Ren is having a temper tantrum and the guards slowly back away and decide to take another route. That was pure writing genius.

Total hardass female characters

She can outdrink the boys, she can kick anyone’s ass, everyone seems to want her, and she looks damn good covered in car oil. The hardass female characters trope is something I’m totally over. Playing the “anything you can do, I can do better” game with the male characters is getting old. Women are strong and powerful, yes, but in other ways. I don’t want to see a female character written to be a man in all but the floppy appendage. I want to see a female character kick ass because she is female.

Dystopian futures

What a depressing image to have in your heads after reading a anything dystopian. It reminds me of the trend in the 80’s, which followed basically the exact same paradigm. The world gets destroyed in some way, the governments break down or are run by corrupt men, and it’s every man for himself. I think at this point in time we need a more positive message. I’m a little tired of always feeling sad after watching or reading dystopian future fictions. And I know that art imitates life and vice versa, so why don’t we try to shift that mindset? Why don’t we focus on creating uplifting art in the hopes that life will imitate and improve?


What are some of your least favorite tropes? Link me to your posts down below!

Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications!

Favorite Scary Books from Childhood

 


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It’s that time of year again! The only month where it’s socially acceptable to be a weird little horror fanatic and wear the wardrobe that Elvira would be jealous of. October is by far one of my favorite months. There are so many good memories surrounding the autumn. Going back to school, football games, crunchy leaves, that smell in the air that everyone loves but that nobody can pinpoint except to say “it smells like cold.”, Halloween, and scary books read in comfy sweaters with a hot cup of autumn spice cider scalding your fingers off.

My childhood autumns were filled with trips to the library, and it was the highlight of my day because I loved reading scary stories. Some of the most truly horrifying things I have ever experienced, that truly disturbed me, were from children’s scary stories. Let’s take a trip down memory lane as we delve back into our childhood nightmares. *Insert evil laughter here*


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Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

This one tops the list, right? Always. And what made these books truly terrifying? Those damn watercolor illustrations! My gosh! Those haunt me to this day in the best way possible. Among my favorite tales were the one with the scarecrow and the one where the bride gets locked inside the trunk in her attic and dies. That last one especially is just horrific, not just in the fictional sense, but in the fact that it was so realistic and believable. It could happen! And it’s such a sad thing to think of. That sad undertone mixed with the horror of the story was enough to give me chills.

 

halloweentale4728.jpgA Dark, Dark Tale

This is one of my favorites, and I couldn’t figure out the title for the longest time. All I could remember from my childhood was that it was a book that follows a black cat into a creepy house, up some stairs, down a long hallway, and to a room where there’s an ending quite similar to the story In a Dark, Dark Room. And with a title so similar, all of my searches always led me to In a Dark, Dark Room. How frustrating! But finally I was able to hunt this one down. Again, the scariest part for me was the illustrations, all darkly colored and perfectly aimed at depicting a haunted house.

 

CsY0qnmWgAAqY4T.jpgBuried Moon

Buried Moon was a book far beyond its children readers. Although it was illustrated and marketed to children, the story told within is something so much darker than a child could ever understand. The details of this book were so unique one can only assume they were based on some archaic fairy tale. The ritual that the village folk need to follow in order to free the moon are so specific, and that is part of the reason this book is so haunting. There’s a sense that this isn’t just a work of fiction, but could in fact have been based on a real event in some ancient culture’s history. Once again, the appeal for me lay in the pictures. The Moon is so radiant and beautiful, and the creatures of the moors are truly nightmarish.

 

entertainment-2015-10-goosebumps-dead-house-main.jpgGoosebumps

Another classic, right? Who didn’t love Goosebumps growing up? It was right up there along with Nick At Night. Oh, what simple times those were. I always reveled in the spooky covers, and although they weren’t as haunting as some of the darker books, they had a thrill all their own. Some of my favorite Goosebumps stories were A Night In Terror Tower, Night of The Living Dummy, Monster Blood, The Mummy That Needed Eyedrops, and Piano Lessons Can Be Murder. Whew, that was a lot to list, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind as classic Goosebumps. What are your favorite Goosebumps books?

 

dirkzimmer.jpgIn A Dark, Dark Room

Who could ever forget Jenny and her green ribbon? Certainly not me! Every single story in this anthology was terrifying. From the growing teeth, to the hitchhiker, to the fat woman watching corpses being brought into a cemetery, this book is filled with chills. I’m sure we all remember this one. It was one of my favorites to read during the autumn, and it still remains one of my favorites to this day. Modern spook books just don’t compare to the older stuff that managed to get under our skin at such a young age. Like that quote says, “We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.” – Louise Glück

 

51MDPpMPjZL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgClifford’s Halloween

This one’s not as scary as it is just plain fun. I loved Clifford growing up, and I often got those books out of the library around Halloween. I loved sit in my living room in the light of the afternoon sun amidst the dust particles and read Clifford. These books never scared me, but they were a nice break from the truly horrifying tales. I still remember the illustrations for when he goes trick or treating dressed as a ghost. It’s amazing now that I’m writing this post how I didn’t realize that the illustrations were really what made children’s books memorable.

 

miss_nelson.jpgMiss Nelson Is Missing! 

Miss Viola Swamp: The original Umbridge. As a child I couldn’t understand the emotion that I felt except to say it filled me with absolute dread reading these books. Miss Viola Swamp was on the same level as Dolores Umbridge and Trunchbull from Matilda. I hated her so much. SO MUCH. And even knowing that it was just their nice teacher dressed up as a meanie wasn’t enough to satiate the feeling of loathing I felt for Miss Swamp. I remember reading one of these books while loosing one of my teeth, and I would sit there and wiggle it back and forth in anxiety as I read about the horrible injustices bestowed upon the very naughty class that Miss Swamp was teaching a lesson to.

 

267889.jpgI Spy Spooky Night

While I never owned this book, I would often hunt it down in the bookstore (Walden’s, I believe, before they took it out of the mall), and read through it while my family looked for their own adult books. I recently looked through the pictures for this again online and while it’s not as creepy as I remember it being (nothing ever is, really), it brought back a ton of memories of sitting in Walden’s hunting down the objects in each picture.

 

untitled.pngSleepy Hollow

This is another classic for me, and like Buried Moon it’s the fact that the story is just as creepy as the pictures that really gets me. A headless horseman? YIKES! I love every version of this story you can possibly find. One of my favorite versions is an animated cartoon, and the thing that scared me the most was how the frogs croaked out “Ichabod, Ichabod” as he and his horse made their way through the dark forest, and the wind blew through the reeds in the most creepy way. I’m also a big fan of the movie with Johnny Depp (Although I’m not a fan of most of his movies). That’s one of my favorite depictions of witches in Hollywood. And no nightmare is as terrifying as the headless horseman.


Do you guys have any favorite childhood Halloween books or scary stories? Let us know in the comments! Or link to your own lists. I’d love to read your recommendations for nostalgic spooks!

Take care, and don’t forget to take your medication!

Book Review | Biohazard

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“Since leaving Moscow I have encountered an alarming level of ignorance about biological weapons. Some of the best scientists I’ve encountered in the West say it isn’t possible to alter viruses genetically to make reliable weapons, or to store enough of a give pathogen for strategic purposes, or to deliver it in a way that assures maximum killing power. My knowledge and experience tell me that they are wrong. I have written this book to explain why.
There are some who maintain that discussing the subject will cause needless alarm. But existing defenses against these weapons are dangerously inadequate, and when biological terror strikes, as I am convinced it will, public ignorance will only heighten the disaster. The first step we must take to protect ourselves is to understand what biological weapons are and how they work. The alternative is to remain as helpless as the monkeys in the Aral Sea.”
Ken Alibek, Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World–Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It

Ever since I played Resident Evil when I was little I have always had a fascination with biological weaponry. Strictly from a fictional viewpoint, of course. Which is where biological, viral weaponry should have stayed. I really wish Biohazard was fictional. Unfortunately the story detailed in this book is real, or as close to real as one is likely to get from a defected member of Russia’s bioweaponry department.

You see, as a reader, I was skeptical of all the facts presented in this book. Why would someone who called Russia his home for so long suddenly spill all of its secrets with no fear of reprimand? Why was he allowed to go public with the information he had? Not only does he discuss Russia’s side of things. He discusses America’s as well. While I don’t doubt the authenticity of his story, I read this book with grains of salt. How much was fiction? How much was real? And is hydrogen peroxide really enough to sanitize a lab room that was infected with a virus?

This book is a slow burner. There was no way I could plow through this in one sitting, just because I’m the kind of reader who likes to let things soak in, and this was a deep read that required many breaks. Despite this, the first three quarters of the book were easy reading. It could be defined as boring in some places because of the amount of detail paid to the description of scientific causes, effects, and procedures, but for the most part, it was a devourable read.

The last few chapters close out the book nicely by discussing Americas cures, vaccines, and safety precautions that are now in place to combat the ill-effects of his previous work. As he stated, more or less, was that this book was his attempt at making up for all the wrongdoings he did as a member of Biopreparate.

I feel that this book is vastly important and a must read for anyone who has even the smallest interest in war, Russia, America, military techniques, or bioweapons. And if you don’t have an interest in any of those things, I still recommend this book. It is heavy with politics and if nothing else is a quick history lesson into who was in power during the Cold War era in Russia and America. Very informative, and quite enjoyable.