The Wolves of Midwinter

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Zombie Princess: A Morbid Fairytale

Zombie Princess
                Zombies have no idea what an oligarchy was, but their unrecognized notion of government was exactly that. It was a coterie of mindless flesh-eaters, arguing over who would get to eat the latest kidnapped victim. That is if you could call various octaves of incoherent grunting a type of arguing. They were almost like dogs, barking competitively and wrestling each other for the brain of their victims.
                One zombie though was quite taken with the screaming girl that they had captured. She had frizzy blonde hair, a pink gown, and a plastic, gold crown. This zombie had the brainless idea of biting the girl’s cheek, rather than going directly for the brain. The girl screamed a howling scream that was completely lost on the carnivorous coterie of zombies.  
     Blood trickled from the infected wound on her cheek, and the poor girl’s eyes were still splotched with tears. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” she cried piteously, as the blood poured onto the grey concrete floors of the abandoned warehouse, the perfect abode for these soulless zombies.
                The cries echoed through the dead caverns of their ears, and drifted through their craniums that were barely alive. How could they receive her anymore with love and tenderness? These zombies were lost to that world, deaf to any ideas lost to a state of mumbling mindlessness.
                Her cries became hoarser, as she continued screaming incessantly at the same volume.  Her face became more sallow, and eventually became desiccated. Her hair lost its blonde coloring and suddenly turned grey. The formerly clear screams of “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” degraded into incoherent grunts.. “Mooogrh…Moooghr… Mooghr…” Phlegm became caught in her throat, as she desperately growled this incomprehensible string of syllables.    
                Fortunately, she still had her assemblage of Halloween princess accessories.  To the coterie of mainly male zombies, she could be weakly recognized as a princess. They bowed down to her, as she stopped yelling, and began to grunt-laugh, which was the zombie technique of trying to laugh with withered vocal chords.  This sounded more like “HOARGH, HOARGH, HOARGH, HOARAGH,” this precious laugh thundered throughout the space of the abandoned warehouse, while the other zombies enthusiastically implored her with joyous grunts to laugh louder.

      “HOARGH..HOARGH…HOARGH…HOARGH…” For every living girl, the dream of being a princess is never fully realized until she completely relinquishes her life, thus her freedom. Sadly, the girl Jessica wished a little too hard, after she blew out her birthday candles and wistfully said, “God, Make me a princess!”

500 Word Stories#1-Enigmatic Alien Story??

   “Father, I’m scared!” the boy within his father’s arm trembled frightfully, while his father didn’t know whether he had the courage to face the enemy beyond or to quell his son’s fears.
      “It’s alright son really, the wardens of death are no longer here in this woods” Woods, what woods? The older man knew that what he said was a complete lie. Shaking with fear and the miserable chill of the deadly air of this leafless forest, the man knew that they were the last men on this forsaken world.
Of course, there were women, numerous women; voluptuous women, intelligent women, athletic women. There were not enough men anymore with such variety, only both the father the son languished in the perilous world.

    It wasn’t the women who wanted them dead; some deadly pathogen only men could contract had nearly accomplished this impossible feat. Yes, it wasn’t the women who had proposed this to happen to the men they had loved. This was the way that the human race was always meant to slowly go extinct. Maybe women though had the scientific means to engender new life, without men.
      What if Eve stayed in the garden, leaving Adam to wander aimlessly across the stretches of the uninhabited Earth? Where would he go? Whom would he love in earnest? Solace, What about solace? Could he concoct enough stories for both him and his son's sanity? My son. He was the only one, who still hung protectively from him, refusing to let go.           
         The man, Henry Whitaker, a name he had recalled his wife softly whispering to him at night, was fading slowly away into obscurity. Her hair, curled and red, was lovely to comb his hand through. It was the one significant gesture that he loved watching in his mind, completely separated from his immediate reality like the moon hanging nightly so high above him with its soft luminescence. He remembered her eyes, just small green ones, twinkling as he offered her a crinkled smile as they both held each other in a bed. That bed was now such a foreign object, their house was further far removed from his mind. These places were secure, but now who was he?
                “Benny, we have to stop walking soon, for the bright ones had mentioned they meet us here….” Bright ones, he had been yearning to meet them every night. Their ship was a moving star, much like what the Greeks perceived as planets, a gliding ship of existence across a sea of blackness. To think, these bright ones sailed peacefully on a sea of blue, when the sun rose every morning. Were they trying to find the last men here on this Earth? He had heard the tall tales, they wanted men only. For what reason, he did not know, but he longed for the bright ones every night and even recounted myths about them to Benny. Some day, he would find them and not know this alienation any longer.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review of Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee

      Author's Note:Hey Blog readers! I've been very busy with both college and my internship this semester at Quirk Books, an apt name for an indie publishing house that specializes  in unconventional books. As part of my internship, I thought it'd be really cool to review and feature some of Quirk's books here on my blog. The other marketing intern at Quirk books for this semester, Jordan, will also be writing reviews that will be published here as well. For the next few months, you'll definitely be exposed to many books that are definitely not your conventional, quirk-less read.


Summary (Taken from Quirk Books Product Page)
     "In 1784, Thomas Jefferson struck a deal with one of his slaves, 19-year-old James Hemings. The Founding Father was traveling to Paris and wanted to bring James along “for a particular purpose”—to master the art of French cooking. In exchange for James’s cooperation, Jefferson would grant his freedom.
Thus began one of the strangest partnerships in U.S. history. As James apprenticed under master French chefs, Jefferson studied the cultivation of French crops (especially grapes for winemaking) so they might be replicated in American agriculture. The two men returned home with such marvels as pasta, French fries, champagne, macaroni and cheese, crème brûlée, and a host of other treats. This narrative nonfiction book tells the fascinating story behind their remarkable adventure—and includes 12 of their original recipes!"

Amazon (Kindle) /Barnes and Nobles (Nook)

    Reading history books can be a steep order for me. There is something really unsavory about history books because some of them can be drudgery to read, as the reader is literally forced to pore over far too many intricate details for the brain to effectively process.  Oftentimes ,the premise of these books though are very appealing, like history books about the history of early chemistry aka. alchemy or the  Salem Witch Trials. They often have that facade of being an intellectual feast for the eyes, until you are thrown into the chaotic mess of excessive historical details.

   When looking at the cover for Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee, I certainly hoped that the eye-pleasing, sumptuous feast on the cover was not just a deceptive cover-up for what could have easily been a dull book. Fortunately, Thomas J. Craughwell is not just an adept historian, but a very competent writer who knows how to write competent prose that is very accessible for those who are not professional historians. Remarkably, the book accomplishes the feat of being an engrossing fictional story that effectively detaches you from the real work.  In the course of reading this book, I happened to be on a train commuting back and forth for work; the author's aesthetically-pleasing prose allowed me to completely escape into the vivid details of Thomas Jefferson's culinary tour of France and the northern regions of Italy.

     Additionally, the book manages to educate you about Thomas Jefferson's multifaceted personality. In many grade-school history courses, Thomas Jefferson is always woefully overshadowed by more seemingly important men like George Washington. Even stranger, his affairs with female slaves are often overemphasized, as though to portray him as some promiscuous heathen.Also, we never hear very much about Deist views,or his rather bold, controversial views of institution of the church. In this book, we learn more about his benevolence, when it came to responding to some of his slaves. Rather than judge him from a twenty-first century perspective, Thomas J. Craghwell reveals more layers that present Thomas Jefferson as a very complicated, truly fascinating individual.

     Instead of offering us meager portion or a full-blown meal consisting of poorly made food, Thomas J. Craghwell offers the reader a historical meal that is meticulously prepared and mindful of his audience's various food allergies. Most of us have an aversion to historical books that are far too bloated or slanderous.  This is a book that carries a balanced perspective of a very intelligent figure in our country's history, and it also grants us a wonderful history tour with a side of savory details about different types of french cuisines and wine. By the end of the book, you'll want to concoct some of the dishes within the recipe section at the end of the book. Overall, I highly recommend this thought-provoking, satisfying read for anyone who loves a well-written history that is not just a poorly organized information dump.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

"Shadow of Night" Review (Second book in the All Soul's Trilogy)

Amazon (Kindle Copy)/ Barnes&Nobles (Nook Edition)
      Under the review, there are some tantalizing details about how you can win yourself a copy of this book!

    This series has literally become my literary cat-nip, or really the most engaging Elizabethan History survey course that I've had the pleasure to take. Spoilers are sure to crop up in this review, so if you haven't read the other, I implore you to not read this review just for your own good.  Anyways, Shadow of Night, happens to be a direct sequel to the Discovery of Witches, which many of you evidenced my complicatedly mixed feeling about when I initially begin reading the book. For some reason, I thought the details of the domestic lives of both Matthew Clairmont and Diana  Bishop  in Discovery of Witches were a bit superfluous, thus these descriptions at the beginning of the first novel ended up severely affecting the pace. Eventually, Diana Bishop begins to discover her magical powers, and she inadvertently finds an ancient, alchemical text that is called "Ashmole 782," that happens to be a very contentious text for the Congregation.As a reminder to readers of the first book, the Congregation is a legal organization of witches, vampires, and daemons that try to control knowledge of their existence among the "muggles." (the mundane humans are not called "muggles," but the word I think has officially entered the literary lexicon). Without describing even more pivotal plot points, Diana and Matthew must travel back to Elizabethan England to procure "Ashmole 782," in order to revolutionize and innovate the rigid rules of the "Congregation."

    As with the first novel, Deborah Harkness seems skilled in constructing a very durable  surface story-line, where there are many deeper complexities that under-gird the plot. Even more impressive, the historical details that she utilizes to bring Elizabethan England to life are truly mind-blowing; her credentials as a historian with her PhD are put into good use not to make these historical details abstruse, but fully animated and important to the flow of the plot. None of the exposition ceases to obstruct the flow of the plot, and the aesthetic details of the houses, flowing gowns, and other regal, Elizabethan England clothes, are tastefully described and never become far too decorous and vomit-worthy. Once the characters are transported to England, the plot seems even more lively and energetic than the first novel: this book is even more complicated and is filled with much more political intrigue.
   For those who were often dismayed by the Twilight-esque elements that ran the risk of being puerile at the beginning of the first novel, this book continues to advance the characters and their complex relationships with other rich characters to a far deeper level of complexity than Stephenie Meyers is capable of accomplishing in my personal opinion. For this reason, it would be inaccurate to just define this novel and its fantastic predecessor as Twilight imitations. While the beginning of the first novel with its excessive, saccharine details were definitely a bit too Twilight-esque for my tastes, Deborah Harkness does improve things by the end of that novel, and  stunningly conceives even more layers  in Shadow of Night to create what  has become a multi-layered series that really should not be called just another "vampire romance" series. The relationship between Diana and Matthew had many more complications in it,and their separate characters outside the context of their relationship were meticulously shaped like all the other auxiliary characters to be more than just caricatures There were so many poignant moments in the middle bursting with very intense emotions;these well-written sequences that had me wiping tears away embarrassingly at a Starbucks a few weeks ago testifies to the Deborah Harkness`s authorial maturity.

      As we learn more about Matthew Clairmont, the erudite biochemist, we learn that he is a deeply paradoxical figure, and he wasn't always the open-minded vampire who is willing to share a deep bond with a witch.  Intriguingly,Matthew and Diana share a relationship that is very alchemical, and it is this deep, subversive passion between a witch and a vampire that could effect unprecedented, controversial change to the world in the future. Interestingly, they must move towards the past, or a much earlier stage in the process of alchemy in order to closely scrutinize themselves in a world that is not very different from their own. In some ways though, their deeper selves are much more transparent and easily comprehensible in Elizabethan England, which is a world where the border between magic and material reality is blurred. It is so hard for me to articulate the literary developments in this book really cleverly are written as slow,methodical alchemical experiment. In the final novel, we will hopefully see the momentous results of this experiment or a very intelligent series that has been blithely written off as a Twilight clone.

    I'm really excited for the next book, and I hope Deborah Harkness continues to deftly craft yet another book that is filled with so much literary gold!

Contest Details: Do you want to win a copy of Shadow of Night,by Deborah Harkness? If you leave a comment on this post with your email address  (1), and (2)become a watcher of this blog via Google (Sidebar on the right of this blog, which lists the number of people watching this blog), you are eligible for the contest! The Deadline is 9/5/12, so you better hurry and be sure to do those two things to be entered into the contest. The winner will be randomly chosen 9/6/12, and I'll be sure to email them afterwords. Good Luck!