Entries in random Supernatural references (12)

Thursday
Feb192015

Review: Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Shutter
Courtney Alameda

Feiwel & Friends
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Published February 3, 2015
384 pages
YA / Horror / Nightmare Fuel

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

I hate this cover. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why since I first saw it months and months ago, but I didn’t even try to get a copy at Comic Con because the cover made me think it would be… I don’t know, super silly or over-the-top crazy full of bad horror clichés? I don’t know. Something about it was just very off-putting to me.

Well, people-who-say-don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover, you were right. This book is awesome. I couldn’t read it right before bed because it freaked me out, but in an awesome, all-the-right-ways sort of way. It’s full of scary things and great characters with complicated lives fighting ghosties and ghoulies and all it’s missing are some Winchester brothers and a 1967 Impala.

In Shutter, a Homeland Security-type division called Helsing fights the daily monsters that creep out of mirrors and woodwork each night. Micheline is the daughter of the head of Helsing, a star pupil being shaped to take the organization over and conveniently a great-great-great-etc. granddaughter of the original Van Helsing that formed the organization. Together with a few of the other top students in her class, including a great-great… grandson of Jonathan Harker, a distant relative of a group experimented on with vampirism and a transplant Aussie badass, Micheline finds herself fighting big bads all around San Francisco.

Shutter opens with Micheline breaking the rules to exorcise a ghost taunting a San Francisco hospital, and it doesn’t go so well. This sets up a plot as she and her friends fight not only the big bad, but also Micheline’s father and the Helsing team trying to “protect” them. There’s lots of action and big set pieces with fighting. There’s adventures with ghosts and other dimensions and plenty of gore.

Micheline is a soldier with tetrachromat, which allows her to see the ghost light emanating from all the creepy things she hunts with unaided eyes. She exorcises ghosts with special cameras created for her, allowing her to trap these things on old-school film. She’s amazing at what she does, but her personal family history has left her with PTSD and a fierce need to protect the people in her life. This pushes her to make rash choices, but she never becomes a stupid protagonist. She’s determined and blinded by her objectives, but also isn’t above feeling fear and emotions that humanize her beyond her soldier life.

The three boys in her life are each a different but pretty standard hero type. Ryder is the strong silent bodyguard, who loves Micheline but won’t give into his feelings because it’s against protocol. Oliver is the super genius computer wizard that doesn’t much go out into the field. Jude is the smart alec with a mouth that happens to also be able to see potential ways people may die when he has skin-to-skin contact.

Okay, maybe not all standard qualities, but these three guys only get a little bit of fleshing out as characters, mostly in how their relationship with Micheline develops. A few hints are dropped here and there to fill them in more, but this is Micheline’s show and everyone else is just filling their parts. But that’s okay because Micheline is such a compelling heroine that she doesn’t need anyone taking up her spotlight.

The writing flows very well, even over the more complicated fight sequences and the gory bits where there are a lot of moving parts. Courtney Alameda is already a master of suspense and freaking me out, so I didn’t mind much when the twists ended up being pretty predictable. The journey was far too much fun to care that the ending was easily seen from hundreds of pages away. I just wanted more adventures with this crew of characters.

I don’t know if I can honestly express how I feel about Shutter in simple words. This is the first book this year where I just want to Muppet flail and tell everyone to read it. Just keep the lights on if you have an overactive imagination and tend to have nightmares.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Opinions are my own. Muppet flailing was gif-ed by someone somewhere at some point and probably a hundred other people too.

Wednesday
Oct152014

What We're Watching: Sleepy Hollow Season 1

Sleepy Hollow
On Monday, 8PM Central
FOX

Back when Sleepy Hollow started in August 2013, we didn’t watch it even though it should have automatically made it onto my “must try out list”. I mean, it was a supernatural, sorta-horror thing with a British guy and a leading character that was female. The supernatural-ness of it all should have put it on the list on its own. But then I heard the plot. And I saw the trailer.

It looked bloody awful.

No, I’m not British. That’s just how awful it looked. I figured there was no way it would possibly last. It would be a huge bomb and the first cancellation of the season. I was obviously wrong. It got pretty great ratings from the get-go, most likely because it debuted in August when nothing else was on and ended after a short 13 episode season. By the time I realized this thing was going to last and I started hearing the comparisons to Supernatural, it was already several episodes in and I was still a nay-sayer.

Well, we finally gave it a shot once the first season came out on DVD, mainlining it like it was a rare commodity. For those of you unfamiliar with Sleepy Hollow, it’s a fantasy show on Fox about Ichabod Crane, who died in the American Revolution after being slashed in the chest by an axe carried by a man whose head he chopped of and yet did not die. Some 250 years later, Ichabod rises from his grave in modern day Sleepy Hollow, where he meets up with Lieutenant Abbie Mills, a young beat cop headed to CIA boot camp in a few days. When Mr. Headless starts showing up and popping off other people’s heads, Abbie’s plans change and she sticks around to help Ichabod unravel the crazy.

It’s Supernatural without the car, with two sisters replacing the brothers, and a heavy dose of fictional American lore. You even have a daddy figure, who leaves the siblings a treasure trove of research that help them in their fight against the supernatural creatures. Trying to explain much more of it will just sound like madness, so let’s just say there’s a headless horseman killing people, a demon trying to kick start the apocalypse and Ichabod and Abbie are stuck with the position of witnessing it all.

This show is highly enjoyable, though I never got as addicted to it as I did Supernatural. It has a pretty solid first season, introducing the characters of Jenny, Abbie’s institutionalized sister, and John Noble (Walter from Fringe) plays a “sin eater” whose extreme reluctance to get involved just means he’s going to get dragged even deeper into the crazy. Orlando Jones is a doubtful yet rational in the face of crazy police chief, who inadvertently gets pulled into the apocalypse, while Ichabod’s wife, a witch who cast the spell that allowed him to rise from the dead, helps them on occasion from her place trapped in purgatory.

Most episodes of the first season have a keen “monster of the week” feel to them, though with a scattering of mythology that builds upon itself as the season goes on. It’s very much Supernatural season 1 in that nature. The monster effects are great, if occasionally a bit unnerving (though that’s probably what they were going for).

 

Nicole Beharie plays Abbie as a rational woman in an irrational place, never doubting the crazy she sees in front of her. She doesn’t break into hysterics when a headless man with a giant gun shows up in her path. She barely even doubts Ichabod’s story about being from the American Revolution. She’s reasonable and good in a stressful situation. She has a ridiculous amount of Bible knowledge that’s a little off-putting, but she’s a fantastic leading lady. Not too serious, while at the same time, not treating the crazy as a joke. Meanwhile Tom Mison as Ichabod is hilarious in his straight man act, having to figure out the 21st century while implementing his knowledge of the 18th to save the entire world. He occasionally has some really ridiculous lines that he plays off with the right amount of conviction that they don’t seem so ridiculous.

The cast in general is fantastic at what they’re doing. Lyndie Greenwood is a badass as Jenny Mills, playing things as though she’s a tip-toe away from being unhinged while Katia Winter’s Katrina is a nice enigma that I hope might have some additional motivations to what is obvious on the surface.

I can understand why so many people were upset after the season finale because it’s a pretty gasp-worthy ender with cliff hanger upon cliff hanger. Much like with Supernatural season 1, I was very happy that I didn’t have to wait so long to see how things turned out. It’s a decently shocking ending with twists that I didn’t foresee, so that always makes me happy.

So what do you guys think? Have you watched Sleepy Hollow? Do you love it, hate it, think it’s super silly?

No spoilers for anything past the first episode of the second season. We’re still a few eps behind!

Wednesday
Aug292012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Breaking the Spine and serves to showcase those books we’re not so patiently waiting to arrive!

The Dirty Streets of Heaven
Tad Williams

DAW Hardcover
Releases September 4, 2012
400 pages

See it on GoodReads

Preorder it from Amazon

Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.

But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.

When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.

You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.

I have a hard time finding angel books I enjoy, mostly because YA titles with angels tend to have silly love triangles and plot points that just don't match up with my own expectations of angels. Plus none of them seem to have a character like Castiel and that's just wrong. It seems like this new series by Tad Williams, he of the epic Shadowmarch fantasy series, might be the solution to my angel book conundrum. Missing souls? Potential end-of-the-world apocalyptic consequences? Angels that hate other angels? Angels that act a little more human than angelic?

Yeah, I'm all for this book.

Tuesday
May292012

Random Tuesday: True Blood Is Ridiculous

At some point during the middle of True Blood’s first season, I received the pilot episode on a DVD as a bonus with some other television series I purchased from Best Buy. When Fernando and I watched it, I spent most of those two hours cringing, my ears threatening to bleed from Anna Paquin’s Southern accent. The rest of the time was spent laughing at either the way the creepy stalker rapist vampire said things or the pure stupidity that is Jason Stackhouse.

And yet, four years later, I felt compelled to watch this series from the beginning. Despite having heard that it only gets more ridiculous and pornographic as the series goes on, I felt intrigued. True Blood is such a thing at Comic Con. It’s such a thing in popular culture in general and people kept telling me to watch it because it’s so much better than The Vampire Diaries.

Well, having watched the first 18 episodes of True Blood, I can confidently proclaim that I will take Crazy Eyes and the Boring One over Creepy Stalker Rapist Dude and the Stupidest Person on Television™ any day of the week.

Spoilers through episode 02.06.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar132012

Random Tuesday: Thinky Thoughts on Male Character Types in YA Fiction

Wow, that blog title sounds like an academic paper I wrote in a parallel lifetype where I didn't write research papers on the sociological reasons behind fan fiction. Anyway...

I don’t know if it’s because I read a lot of YA and YA tends to have female protagonists, but all these girls are starting to run together. They almost always fall squarely into one of two categories: the strong, determined type or the whiney, please-save-me type. Sometimes the strong ones have moments of weakness, but they rarely fall at the feet of a guy or wait around for someone to solve their problems (even if this leads to bad decision making). They could be further divided into other categories, sure, but the differences start feeling like you're splicing hairs to create diversity that isn’t really there.

Guys in these same YA books are harder to fit into just two categories. Yes, there are the strong ones and the whiney ones, but there seems to be more variety involved in creating love interests and/or side characters to support the main female protagonist that isn’t shown as often when developing a leading female. I suppose I could easily split the boys into two categories – asshats versus not asshats – but not being an asshat can come in many different forms.

Luckily my recent reading streak has led me away from the insufferable asshat love interests that drove me crazy in Hush, Hush, and of course, Twilight. Even Jace became more tolerable during the fourth book in The Mortal Instruments series than he was in the original trilogy. I also have a hard time loving the too perfect, can-do-no-wrong love interests like Xavier from Alexandra Adornetto's Halo series. Instead I’ve been presented with a fairly varied group of guys that range from sarcastic sidekick to loveable zombies (seriously). So here I present to you a recently compiled list of my five favorite types of male YA characters.

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