The Wolves of Midwinter

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Warm Bodies Interview Resurrected

 Sorry blog readers, I've been seriously over-consumed by my  obsession with my current senior thesis about the Chronicles of Narnia and His Dark Materials.
Anyways, I haven't forgotten about this blog. Since the film adaptation of Warm Bodies is being released this upcoming Friday, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to re-post the link to an interview I conducted with Isaac Marion, author of the book of the same title. If you haven't read it, you must read it!! Don't be fooled by the somewhat lame premise (the actual execution of the semi-romantic zombie story is done very well).

Access the Interview by clicking the below Picture of "R," the main zombie character in Warm Bodies!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Clownish Scavenger (Based on Emilie Autumn's Scavenger)

    Clownish Scavenger

 Bodies Dumped daily outside
   Bring me sweet, untainted warmth
        Biding my time, I examine
         Each ligament, every part
           Meticulous, I must be
      To succeed with revival

    Snow litters this oasis
  Frothy white crystals fall fast
     Striving to whiten the gloom
Oh! this corpse smells like wet death
        It exudes a rotted stench
  Like Ophelia, she drowned.

           Her  golden curls shine brightly
          As her heart beats once again
        When my hands are placed
          On the core of her being
          This unholy resurrection
         Serves as a  perturbation
        To the constancy of death

        But, I must acquire her heart
      While abruptly alive, she sings
      A woeful tune about death
     My ears can't bear this burden 
    Once the heart is torn asunder
    She'll stop her god-awful song
     Then resume her  eternal sleep
         From a stone bridge, she slipped once,
          Caught in a rapturous dream,
       Soon,she  laid underneath the
             Arches of Moonlight and Sky
           This ephemeral fabric
      Of her tightly wound madness
        Strangled her till her abrupt death
        One sigh, one cry, then she died

       Laughing loudly, I drowned my
       Sentimental thoughts  alive
         No longer was she living
         With her lifeless heart in hand
      I savored my prize, my penance
       This was my conduct of life
      Playfully acting out death
    And being the jester to death
    Like Hamlet's much beloved clown


Note: The poem is inspired partly by this fantastic Emilie Autumn song, from her album Fight Like a Girl.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Anne Rice's "The Wolves of Midwinter" Coming This Post- Apocalpytic Christmas


    By now, I'm fairly certain that all my readers are more than abundantly aware of my Anne Rice fandom. If not,its very easy to peruse through my cache of past posts, and evidence my fervent appreciation for both her novels.

    As a huge fan of her last novel, The Wolf Gift, I am extremely excited for the planned sequel/companion novel: The Wolves of Midwinter. The novel appears to closely follow the narrative coattails of the previous installment, and more tantalizing details about the werewolf mythos within Anne Rice's fictional world will definitely be divulged against the backdrop of Christmas in Nideck Point. Hopefully,  werewolf Yule tide celebrations won't be as placid as say- the Charlie Brown Christmas festivities. More importantly, the celebration will probably include some fattening eggnog, an extravagant/gluttonous feast, and more  thoughtful philosophizing on the nature of morality and ineffable nature of God/divinity.

    Plot Synopsis:
Taken from the Amazon Product Detail Page

"The tale of THE WOLF GIFT continues . . .

In Anne Rice’s surprising and compelling best-selling novel, the first of her strange and mythic imagining of the world of wolfen powers (“I devoured these pages . . . As solid and engaging as anything she has written since her early vampire chronicle fiction” —Alan Cheuse, The Boston Globe; “A delectable cocktail of old-fashioned lost-race adventure, shape-shifting and suspense” —Elizabeth Hand, The Washington Post), readers were spellbound as Rice imagined a daring new world set against the wild and beckoning California coast.

Now in her new novel, as lush and romantic in detail and atmosphere as it is sleek and steely in storytelling, Anne Rice brings us once again to the rugged coastline of Northern California, to the grand mansion at Nideck Point—to further explore the unearthly education of her transformed Man Wolf.

The novel opens on a cold, gray landscape. It is the beginning of December. Oak fires are burning in the stately flickering hearths of Nideck Point. It is Yuletide. For Reuben Golding, now infused with the wolf gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, this Christmas promises to be like no other . . . as he soon becomes aware that the Morphenkinder, steeped in their own rituals, are also celebrating the Midwinter Yuletide festival deep within Nideck forest.

     From out of the shadows of the exquisite mansion comes a ghost—tormented, imploring, unable to speak yet able to embrace and desire with desperate affection . . . As Reuben finds himself caught up with the passions and yearnings of this spectral presence and the preparations for the Nideck town Christmas reach a fever pitch, astonishing secrets are revealed, secrets that tell of a strange netherworld, of spirits—centuries old—who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers . . ."

     Sadly, we only have the upcoming paperback release of The Wolf Gift  next Tuesday  to tide us over till later this year, October 2013 to be exact, when this very exciting new installment is released. Until then, we'll have to brace ourselves for the long interim between now and then. In order to prevent everyone from getting edgy and slightly wolfish, I have some upcoming posts to help stave off your impatience and to take advantage of the time till then to plumb the rich literary depths of The Wolf Gift (It helps that I've been doing a thorough reread of both Interview with the Vampire and The Wolf Gift once again to help refresh myself of the various nuances in Anne Rice's character development and plot structure of both novels.)

    Strangely enough, a short 16 paged preview of "The Wolves of Mid-Winter" is available on Amazon's free-reader preview, and you can access this preview only through the product page of The Wolf Gift  paperback. Its only fully-accessible for Amazon members only, and you just have to scroll towards the bottom of the actual preview to view it in all its glory!

      Here are some previous blog posts that I created about "The Wolf Gift"

Discussion of The Wolf Gift Part 1:Archetypal Elements of the Hero Story, as outlined by Joseph Campbell
*In-Depth Review of Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift

Be on the Look-Out for more discussion posts on The Wolf Gift  in the coming months!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Maria V. Snyder Reread

   After my post yesterday about my re-read of Touch of Power, I thought to myself "Maybe, I'm being a little too unfair in my comparisons between Touch of Power and Poison Study." I was comparing a book that I re-read more recently, and another series that I have much vaguer memories of. Before writing that post, the last time I read Poison Study was sometime in 2009,after having it recommended twice by a high school friend two years before and eventually buying it on a whim two years later at Wegmans. I'm not even sure how I eventually convinced myself to purchase the novel. Anyways, it sat in my room two or three months later. Eventually, I read the first book, raced through the second, and then savored the third book.Having read them so long ago, that might explain my preference of certain elements of Touch of Power over the Study series.

          Feeling that I have done injustice to the Study books in yesterday's post, I am going to undertake the challenge of re-reading each of these books. I wanted to do all my re-read posts within the month of January. But with my last semester beginning shortly, I know it would be impossible to read nearly eight books in one month. Instead, I am going to slowly read through all them whenever I have downtime this semester, and gradually write posts that offer my "updated" feelings on the book.
    This should be fun! I plan on dredging up some of my older review of each of these releases, and writing reviews for some of the books I had forgotten to ever write reviews for (namely Spy Glass and Outside In). Who knows what kind of reactions I'll have? Anyways, keep on the lookout over the coming months for these posts!!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Princess Academy:The Subversion of Princess Stereotypes

Shannon Hale's Princesses are not just another derivative of "pretty, pretty" princesses

Note: This book is not just geared for girls, though some insipid stigmas might tell you otherwise.....

        Scoff if you want....the word "princess" has long been denigrated by others, and we cannot help but project this conventional image onto this book. Our preconceived notion of princess keeps us from daring to ever read a book with such a subversive title. The very nature of a princess book just brings us chills because we cannot help but expect inane conversation, discussion about frilly dresses, and thrills as epic as the suspense about whether or not the prince reciprocates the obsessive feelings that  the princess has for him (This is usually futilely achieved through coy glances in the targeted prince's direction).

     Of course, this is all women are, right? Not at all. You have been reading the wrong books.

Thankfully, Shannon Hale's Princess Academy subverts the following "empty" women archetypes.

Powered on making coffee/tea for weary cowboy hunks looking for shelter in the oppressive heat of the desert...Not crafty enough to operate like a James Bond girl....    

Exhibit A: Sally of the Desert: Her only ambition in life is to search  the horizon far beyond her homestead in the desert for a  cowboy hunk that will appease her deepest desires. She is hollow for now, a ghost wandering the desert of a dull existence, waiting impatiently for that "man," the epitome of the classical model of heroic masculinity... 

Her favorite Quote: "Craft me an identity ... I want to bear your children, Wandering Cowboy!"

Exhibit B: Porcelain Housewife-Operates on Feminine Submission to an order of superior males
Favorite Quote: "The world is so lovely, look at the animals prancing everywhere....Oh my... A Huntsman!" (chokes suddenly) Screams, Flails, Cries, Simpers... Waits to be reset by seven dwarves...


         These are women who  are so grossly objectified that they resemble pottery, rather than real women. Snow White  epitomizes this caste of fragile women, so breakable by sudden danger, that they normally face impossible odds by doing the "submissive  wife maneuver"- (A) Scream hysterically/Faint/ Sob monstrously till they are about to choke on their own phlegm (B) Rescued by a group of reclusive dwarves, each with their own unique foible-this kidnapped woman will obey them unquestionably-she'll make them pies, tuck them to bed, do all the labor;so they can make merry and drink to their heart's content C. Deceived by ugly,"kindly" old women- encased then within a glass casket- Of course, she'll now be eternally useless and immobile, until the radiant/one dimensional prince kisses and "saves" her.............

Purpose of Life-Similar to Exhibit A-

Amazon (Kindle)/ Barnes&Nobles (Nook)

Exhibit C- Princess Academy Princesses

Powered by True Ambition and Respect for their Sense of Individuality

     Unlike the latter two examples of powerless women, Shannon Hale writes a story about courageous princesses, who have princess training that makes them  both literate and worldly  Essentially, they are equipped with diplomatic skills because being a princess requires intellectual skills that go beyond selecting the "right dress"  to gain the interest of men. It is their intellectual skills and their personality that will ultimately help them to earn the right to possibly marry the prince (this becomes a secondary goal/distraction later on.. there's a larger, less insubstantial plot at hand).
     Of course, Shannon Hale deftly takes the book beyond another feminine quest that is solely focused on women vying to earn the favor of a dull,male love interest, this is one of the other ways that she effectively subverts the largest barrier for female characters. She does also without weakening the male characters as well; this is not "women power" to the extent of mocking/demeaning the male characters. Instead, the book has a much more egalitarian vibe, as it concentrates on the aspirations and gifts that individuals have that transcend gender.
      This book rightfully earned its Newberry Honor by going beyond the stereotypes,yet not becoming a feminist polemic at the same time. Rather, it is a story that like any effective story makes us become emotionally invested in the conflict that these young girls and their whole village becomes involved in after their village is chosen by a richer kingdom to become eligible for a "princess contest." Moving beyond the "quest for the male love interest," the conflict moves into socioeconomic problems that the village faces. Meaning, if one of the princesses is selected, will their candidacy help the sagging economy of their village improve?

          If you are looking for a female empowerment story in the vein of Pixar's Brave,this is the book to read. Without becoming a one-dimensional "shero," a doting princess, or a subservient housewife, the female characters within Princess Academy find power through their intellectual skills and their ethical determination. This is the model for other books, trumpeting themselves as female empowerment novels, to follow!

(Also, if you think sexism is extinct, just try observing how people will react if male readers admit to liking this book.(Little do they know.. these princesses are not just pretty, but are smart, resourceful, diplomatic, and resilient)

If you're interested in Shannon Hale's other books, Check out her Website and Blog for more information!

If you have unabashed appreciation for female characters, check out this message from none other than Joss Whedon (one of my favorite writers!)

Re-Reading "Touch of Power"

                Amazon (Kindle)/Barnes&Nobles (Nook)

      The release of a new Maria V. Snyder is becoming a yearly event, and I'm one of those readers that keeps a close eye on both her "website" and emailed newsletters about any mention of upcoming new releases from her. I still have yet to carve out some much-needed time to read the sequel to her latest series, The Healer series, which focuses around another strong-minded female character by the name of Avry. Blending both the apocalyptic tone of many other YA releases and also familiar elements from Maria V. Snyder's other fantasy books; you have a winning combination that seems to be bolstered in effect after reading it again.

     I don't normally re-read books because I always feel daunted by the possibility that re-reading a book that I really loved the first time might dampen my enthusiasm. Yes, this is probably some delusion of my creation, but psychology aside, it is sometimes hard to find the urge to re-read books you fondly remember for this very reason. Perhaps, this all stems from my experience of watching certain films that I nostalgically remember as being phenomenal, only to be crushed by the sheer mediocrity of the film when watching it again. This happens to comedies too like Hangover,which was insanely funny the first time, but shockingly unfunny the second time. Does Touch of Power  fall victim this rule?  No.

      Here is the list of things that I observed while re-reading Touch of Power:

    1) Yelena and Avry really are different characters (as viewed through the type of relationship they share with their separate love interest)
     Reading "Touch of Power" the first time made me concentrate too much on their similarities rather than their distinct differences. Yes, they both have their own magic system,  but I found that they really have very different motives and even ways of responding to their respective love interests. Is it just me or does Avry seem much more sarcastic than Yelena in her reaction to her love interest in the book: Kerrick? Yelena had her own share of witty retorts, when speaking with the mysterious Valek, but Yelena seemed much more forgiving of some of Valek's character flaws.

    In contrast, Avry seems to be far more skeptical about Kerrick's as a person, and questions the veracity of both his words and motives far more than Yelena did for Valek. Being a skeptical person by nature, I cannot help but love this appreciate this side of Avry.  First of all, it is Kerrick who is the one responsible for kidnapping her, whereas Yelena is sentenced to be the poison taster for a ruler,whom Valek happens to be hired as this ruler's personal protector (I'm working off of memories of reading Poison Study nearly three years ago.. Please bear with me!)   Some people prefer Yelena and Valek's romance, but I am starting to find the romance between Kerrick and Avry to be both more believable and well-developed. Avry seems much more reluctant to express her romantic feelings with Kerrick. More importantly, both Kerrick and Avry don't immediately succumb to lustful feelings for another and consummate quickly like in a James Bond film. They gradually start to become more intimate, but their relationship really depends on certain events in the story. I love the suspense throughout the novel about whether or not Kerrick really loves Avry in any meaningful way besides feeling both pity and grief about the fact that she'll be a martyr for the survival of Kerrick's friend, Prince Ryne.
  2) The political situation in the aftermath of the plague within the Fifteen Realms seems more complicated, less of an auxiliary detail.
     As I write this, I feel like I should re-read the Study books in case I'm being biased towards my much more recent memories of re-reading Touch of Power. Nonetheless, I feel like the political situation within Touch of Power  reflects Maria V. Snyder's growing confidence when it comes to creating the politics of her fantasy world. The politics really reminded me of the power exchange that occurred between the sparring rulers within Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.
   It helps that the romance between Avry and Kerrick has a political dimension. In a sense Avry as a healer has a different perspective about how to rectify the anarchic state of some of the realms, all due to the pillaging marauders and the survivors that are desperate for any type of ruler being installed in the realm as long as they can bring stability. Since Avry is on the run for so many years and having seen the destruction, she does not see the political situation in the same way as Kerrick. Kerrick seems more adapted to power being obtained through a power struggle of deceit and subterfuge. Kerrick is much more normalized to this view of politics being messy, but more importantly, being a game of sorts that completely overlooks the human face of the situation. Avry does not see a chess game of political intrigue, but rather an infected state that needs healing. Her willingness to understand the different political perspectives,beyond Kerrick's instilled sense of seeing his political opponents as rivals, though also makes her ironically vulnerable to being used as a pawn in the power struggle between the various rulers vying for rule over the realms.   Essentially,Kerrick's forest magic defines his political stance as one of preserving power, whilst Avry's healing magic lies outside of political factions and is concentrated on remedying the chaotic situation of the realm.

      There is so much more to pore over, in terms of the political details of Touch of Power,  but I think these paragraphs do the book's political complexity justice.   

Amazon (Kindle)/ Barnes&Nobles (Nook)

    Coming Soon: I'll be posting my review of "Scent of Magic," which was released a few weeks ago. I still have yet to start it because I just finished re-reading Touch of Power.

    Also, I hope to post an interview with Maria V. Snyder eventually as well. 


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A Bibliophile's Reverie Returns!

Interview with Susan Heyboer O'Keefe, Author of Frankenstein's Monster

   Author's Note:
Its been awhile, and part of the delay stems from the fact that I've been resting for the last two weeks- I don't think I've watched as much Carl Sagan's Cosmos  at any other time in my life. I hope all you have had an equally relaxing holiday, and I hope that you'll continue reading this blog avidly.

    For one of my first posts for the new year, I have the much-delayed interview that did with Susan Heyboer O'Keefe, who skillfully wrote a brilliant, unofficial sequel to one of my favorite novels, Frankenstein. Since the anniversary of the original publication of Mary Shelley's classic is today, I thought that this belated post, along with my in-depth review of the book tomorrow, would be more than appropriate to celebrate the life and work of Mary Shelley.


   1. What originally piqued your interest in writing a sequel to Frankenstein?
First, let me thank you for your kind invitation to be here. You’ve put me in impressive company.
As to the sequel: Shelley’s Frankenstein ends with what I’ve always thought to be one of the most beautiful and haunting sentences I’ve ever read. The creature has boarded Walton’s ship, discovered Frankenstein’s body, and told its side of the story. Then, declaring that it has no place among the living, it avows to annihilate itself. It rushes past Walton, leaps from the ship, and lands on an ice floe.
Then that sentence:
It was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.
Beyond the poetry of the words themselves lingers keen ambiguity. Does the monster do what it says it will? The reader never knows. If the monster does—end of story.
But if it doesn’t…
2. Throughout the novel, I was gripped by your deft ability to capture the psychological depth of the monster from Frankenstein.  Was finding the balance between your vision of the creature and something that was faithful to Mary Shelley's particular vision challenging?
Challenging is a word I wouldn’t have used at the time. I’m rather unconscious about technique and just “work,” if you know what I mean. Perhaps if I were more aware of what I’m doing, I could have eliminated half of those endless drafts! However, I did do a lot of preparation, which I guess does answer the question. I read and reread and reread Shelley beforehand, and reread parts countless times, so that when I came to a particular scene of my own, I had a sense of wanting the monster to have the same emotional tenor as this or that point in the original.
3. Personally, I find watching Frankenstein adaptations to be a rather disillusioning venture at times. Then again, I'm naturally picky with any adaptations of my favorite novels. I've found the Kenneth Branagh adaptation, the classic Universal monster film adaptation, and the Hallmark television special to all be very disappointing. The recent London Theater adaptation, directed by Danny Boyle, remains my personal favorite. What is your personal favorite adaptation, and why do you think Frankenstein adaptations to be so particularly difficult to film?
Actually, the two Whale-Karloff movies are my favorites, even though they’re responsible for the terrible grunt-and-shuffle creature. Most movie distortions of books are awful or ludicrous, but the Whale-Karloff movies are powerful visions in their own right. At a certain point I had to let go of Shelley’s monster and my monster and just surrender. Whale’s monster is his own and deserves to live, whatever its origin.
Maybe that’s why later adaptations are so difficult to film. Whether consciously or not (witness how many films add Mary Shelley or The True Story to their title), on some level each one’s biggest challenge is to erase the indelible impression of those first movies—and this before even attempting to do justice to a classic.     
4. Is there any other classic novel that you'd love to perhaps write a sequel for in the near future?

I was shocked by how many reviewers talked about my “audacity” for tackling so classic a work as Frankenstein (and relieved that they then liked it; a few even said Shelley herself might have written it). Honestly, that unnerved me. At no point did it occur to me that what I was doing was audacious and daring by approaching such a seminal work. I was just a writer, responding to questions that I had as a reader, prompted by a wonderful book. If I wrote a sequel to another classic now, I’d be more aware of such things beforehand—that there would be, or at least perceived to be, this supposed audacity, and that many people would judge the work additionally on that basis—which would color things from the beginning and maybe prevent my doing it again.
In any case, there’s no classic I can think that I’d like to write a sequel for, although who knows what questions the very next book will make me ask?
Thanks again Susan for participating in this interview and offering thoughtful analysis about the process behind writing this brilliant sequel to a great novel!

For More Information About Both This Book and Susan's other noteworthy works: Check out the following links!
Susan's Author Website