Wednesday, December 19, 2012

REVIEW: Stephen King's Christine

Book: Christine

Author: Stephen King

Series: Stand-alone

Publishing stats:
June 1st 2007 by Hodder Paperback (reissue of 1983 original)

Genre: Horror

Cover Blurb: Christine, blood-red, fat, and finned, was twenty. Her promise lay all in her past. Greedy and big, she was Arnie's obsession, a '58 Plymouth Fury. Broken down, but not finished. There was still power in her - a frightening power that leaked like sump oil, staining and corrupting. A malign power that corroded the mind and turned ownership into Possession.

First line: This is the story of a lover's triangle, I suppose you'd say -- Arnie Cunningham, Leigh Cabot, and, of course, Christine.

What I liked: I thoroughly enjoyed the tone King used for the narrative. The book is divided into three parts, the first and third of which are written in the first-person perspective of Dennis Guilder. It's made clear early on that Dennis is in fact writing some years after the events he's recounting, events that occurred back in 1978 when Dennis was your average American teenager whose best friend just bought himself an old car to fix up. The phrasings and expressions used and, heck, even the emotions described, all seem to embody the voice of a teen. You get to read the story as a build-up, slowly seeing Arnie's descent into Christine's clutches from an outside perspective; it was amazingly well done.

What I didn’t like: The car is going to kill people. You know it. I know it. Illiterate island dwellers raised in isolation with no contact with the outside world know it. It took over four hundred pages for the car to kill someone. Up until that point, the horror element of the book was carried by creepy vibes, unexplained regeneration and a flashback vision or two. There was build-up and buckets of backstory was dished out and miles of ground work laid out.For four hundred pages. Just think about that for a minute. Four hundred pages of build-up, of working towards something you see coming from page one. Sure, it was well written, but for crying out loud there comes a point where you just want the car to make with the homicidal tendencies already!

Overall: I can definitely understand why Stephen King gets the hype that he does; there's no question it's deserved. His narrative is stark, yet infused with the definitive voice of his character. I especially loved his choice of words for several of his descriptions; this is one writer who knows how to rock the simile, to say nothing of the metaphor. I also enjoyed the character development and how it unfolded, especially when limited as it was to the first person perspective for the first and third parts of the story. Incidentally, the second part of the book, which covered the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas while Dennis Guilder was hospitalized for a soccer injury and thus effectively cut off from the story's action, was written in third-person and bounced around between all the other characters. The concept of Christine being almost like a girlfriend to Arnie was a good way to view the relationship, even if a third-party did somewhat ruin that image. This third-party was, incidentally, my least favourite element of the book. I have to say that, in this instance at least, I much prefer the movie's interpretation of Christine as inherently evil rather than being possessed by a malevolent spirit. All-in-all, there was definitely, absolutely, positively no question that this was a horror story - it just took way too long to make the transition from thriller to outright horror.

Would I read this author again: Yes - the man knows how to give you chills!

My rating: ☺☺/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at,,, or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #32 - Top 5 Books You Want For Christmas

Dear Santa,

This year for Christmas there are five books that I would really, really love to find under the tree on Christmas morning. Of course, any book would be appreciated but, if you were looking for ideas, here are my Top 5 Books I Want For Christmas.

#5 - Your Favorite Seuss: A Baker's Dozen by the One and Only Dr. Seuss
DESCRIPTION: From the Grinch to the kid who hates green eggs and ham, this collection gathers 13 classic Dr. Seuss stories into one volume. Includes photographs, memorabilia, and original sketches. Each story is prefaced by a short essay by someone whose life was changed by Dr. Seuss or who is simply an unabashed admirer.

LINK: Your Favorite Seuss: A Baker's Dozen by the One and Only Dr. Seuss at Book Depository

I not only love Dr. Seuss and all his works, but I use them all the time in my work. Having an anthology that not only includes several of his more popular tales but comes with commentary to boot would be one of those rare times where amusement and functionality come together.

#4 - The Complete Sherlock by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
DESCRIPTION: Here, in one exquisitely designed volume, are all 4 full-length novels and 56 short stories about the colourful adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This book features distinctive gilt edging and attractive silk-ribbon bookmark. Decorative, durable and collectable, this volume will make an indispensable cornerstone for any home library. It contains every word Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote about Baker Street's most famous resident. Also included is an introduction by lifetime Sherlockians, Christopher and Barbara Roden. "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" is an exquisitely designed book with bonded-leather bindings, distinctive gilt edging and an attractive silk-ribbon bookmark. Decorative, durable and collectable, it will offer hours of pleasure to readers young and old and is an indispensable cornerstone for any home library.

LINK: The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the Book Depository

REASON: I love the BBC's Sherlock. Cumberbatch is adorable as Sherlock and Freeman does a good job of balancing out Sherlock's eccentricities as Watson. I love CBS's Elementary. Miller has brought a definitive modern flare to Sherlock and Liu has redefined the role of Watson in a whole slew of ways beyond the obvious. I love the recent Sherlock feature films. Robert Downey Jr. does a fantastic job playing out the quirkier side of Sherlock with Jude Law doing an excellent straight man. Who wouldn't want to dive back into the source material, if only to see how it all began? Ideally, I'd prefer a collection of books to a single volume - a thousand-plus page volume is so not fun to lug around - but who could say no to this beauty?

#3 - Fever Moon by Karen Marie Moning

DESCRIPTION: An all-new Mac & Barrons story by #1 `New York Times` bestselling author Karen Marie Moning, marvelously adapted into a full-color graphic novel by writer David Lawrence and illustrator Al Rio In `Fever Moon, ` we meet the most ancient and deadly Unseelie ever created, the Fear Dorcha. For eons, he's traveled worlds with the Unseelie king, leaving behind him a path of mutilation and destruction. Now he's hunting Dublin, and no one Mac loves is safe. Dublin is a war zone. The walls between humans and Fae are down. A third of the world's population is dead and chaos reigns. Imprisoned over half a million years ago, the Unseelie are free and each one Mac meets is worse than the last. Human weapons don't stand a chance against them. With a blood moon hanging low over the city, something dark and sinister begins to hunt the streets of Temple Bar, choosing its victims by targeting those closest to Mac. Armed only with the Spear of Destiny and Jericho Barrons, she must face her most terrifying enemy yet.

LINK: Fever Moon by Karen Marie Moning at the Book Depository

REASON: I'm not sure I need very much explanation here beyond pointing out that this is a graphic novel - meaning there are illustrations, as in author-approved representations of the characters, in print and thus totally visible - featuring Mac and Barrons. Just think about that for a minute. Go on; I'll wait.

See? Told you. No further explanation required.

#2 - The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain
DESCRIPTION: he great American storyteller combines wit and tenderness in this "he said/she said" narrative of life among the first humans. Additional stories include "The $30,000 Bequest," "Was It Heaven? Or Hell?" "Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale," "The Californian's Tale," and "A Monument to Adam."

LINK: The Diaries of Adam and Eve at the Book Depository

REASON: I love reading the different writers through history borrow characters from mythology and religion and make them their own. I love comparing all the different Adams and Eves, Cains and Abels, Michaels and Lucifers, and seeing what holds firm and what changes over time as the pens change hands. This collection of short stories would fall nicely into that category.

#1 - Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia by Carol Rose

DESCRIPTION: In more than 2,000 alphabetically arranged entries, readers will meet angels, demons, elves, encantados, fairies, familiars, keremets, nats, nymphs, and many other strange beings from around the world. Carol Rose introduces the reader to the little--and not so little--folk, delightfully various and, at the same time, strikingly similar from country to country. Wherever humans have lived, the supernatural beings have dwelt alongside us. People serve to explain the unexplainable--the strange disappearance of a traveler in a dark wood, that odd thumping in the attic, the fresh cream turned sour overnight. Often they reveal the stoic humor with which human societies have faced their difficulties. But whatever their source, our guilts, fears, dreams, or imaginations, the spirits have fascinated and enchanted us through the millennia.

LINK: Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia by Carol Rose at the Book Depository

REASON: I can never find a reliable resource detailing the different sorts of Faeries. I have bunches of encyclopedias and dictionaries running through various mythologies, deities and monsters but fairies? Nope. Not a one. Which is ironic given that I write about the Fae. Would be nice to have at least one resource on my own subject matter, even if I am going to morph it all to suit my own needs, LOL.

And there you have it, Santa, my Top 5 Books I'd really love for Christmas. I'll keep my fingers crossed - I really think I've been a good girl this year so hopefully Christmas morning will find at least one of these nestled beneath my tree. Until next year, Santa - Have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #31 - Books/Series You Have Read More Than Once!

There are always books you go back to, books where the characters are like old friends, the world a familiar safe haven, and the events a well worn path. Books in and of themselves are escapes, but these books are more than just escapes - they're like visits to your favourite vacations spots, where every scene is a different sort of salve for whatever your mood might require.

So, without further ado, here are Calliope's Domain's Top 5 (although, believe me when I say there are more - many, many, many more!) Books/Series I Have Read More Than Once! Enjoy.

#5 - Black Jewel Trilogy by Anne Bishop

Three books that chronicle the life of a world's saviour as she grows from childhood to womanhood through the eyes of the family that loves her. It has angst, pain, tragedy, suffering, light, happiness, love, devotion - it runs the gamut back and forth over and over again yet somehow still finds it way to a happy ending. What's not to love about that?

#4 - Betsy Taylor, Vampire Queen series by Maryjanice Davidson
These books are hilarious. Betsy is a self-centered, shoe-obsessed, foul-mouthed, tried-and-true dumb blonde who, after an unfortunate run-in with a Aztec and a series of unfortunate events, finds herself the vampire queen of the dead. Somehow, in between all the sarcasm and comic relief, there's an actual story that unfolds that dances the line between the dramatic and the wacky.

#3 - Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
I love Kate's journey. In the beginning, she's a tough and miserable loner. As the books progress, however, she became more open, more caring and dedicated to the people in her life; heck, she even fell in love. And each step along that path is another nugget of emotional drama as comforting and familiar as a warm blanket on a cold day.

#2 - Guild Hunters series by Nalini Singh

Alright, so the first books were a little rocky but once Elena finds some closure on her past in the second book, the subsequent stories have been phenomenal. Not to mention the depth and intricacies involved in the emotional development going on in these pages. Oh, but, honestly, who am I kidding? These are books about strong, powerful men - men so powerful, so intimidating that they not only top the charts, they blow it into a whole new scale. And these books give you a front row seat as these scary-as-sin-and-twice-as-hot heroes finds themselves vulnerable to the love of the right woman. Cue the dreamy sigh here.

#1 - The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

To quote Belle, this book has it all - far-off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince (if you're flexible with the definition that is) in disguise - and enough drama to keep a drama vampire like myself sated for a decade! Mac is the perfect narrator; she starts off naive and ignorant and over the course of the subsequent books not only grows in both physical and mental strength, but knowledge too. Through Mac readers are introduced to a world that gets darker, larger and weirder with every page. And Barrons and V'lane don't hurt either!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #30 - The Books that Started Your Book Addiction!

This week's Top 5 list are those books that started my book addiction and, oh, did they ever! I was always an avid reader - I think by the time I hit grade five I had read every book in our school library and the good ones at least twice - but it was a select few that really let got me into the reading craze, allowed me to figure out what it was I was looking for in a good book, and taught me about my own tastes in reading material.

So, without further ado, my list!

#5 - Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

When the movie Queen of the Damned was released, I fell in love with Stuart Townsend's portrayal of the vampire Lestat. Naturally, like any good book nerd, I wanted to read the book the movie was based on for comparison purposes - and then meant starting at the beginning. Interview is not my favourite book is the series - Lestat is right when he says that Louis whines a lot - my favourite book is actually a tie between The Vampire Lestat and The Tale of the Body Thief. But Interview was my first step into the world of vampires; it gave me my first taste of them as something other than dracula and Buffy bad guys and really gave perspective on a species that really can live forever.

#4 - Witches of Eileanan by Kate Forsyth
For my thirteenth birthday, one of my friends gave me a $10 gift card for Chapters and, one day after a sleepover on the way to drop me off at my dad's work, my grandfather took me to the bookstore and stood patiently near by as I picked out my book. It was my very first time buying a book for myself in the adult section; all past books having come from the Teen and Children sections. Luckily for me, it turned out to be a great book that left me wanting more! Incidentally, the next four books in this series was given to me as a Christmas gift later that year by the very same grandfather who stood by and watched me pick this out. For the memories attached to these books alone...they are priceless.

#3 - Never Ending Story by Michael Ende
I found this in my school library in grade four and read it because it looked like a challenge - I'd never read a book that long before! Its length aside, however, between its pages I found a world full of magic and adventure that gripped my imagination tight and took me on one heck of a ride. I loved how this book turned out to be a story-within-a-story - sort of the literary equivalent of Jumanji. These sorts of stories always have such a great symbolism going on - after all, what else is a book but a portal to other worlds, an escape from our reality? I especially loved how the never-ending aspect of the story played out.

#2 - The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
After reading The Never Ending Story, my grandmother suggested seeing if The Hobbit was at the library. It was, but when I went to check it out the librarian said she thought it might be a bit too hard for my reading level. I admit, after that it was a matter of pride that I not only read it, but understood it too, thank you very much. (Ha, take that, Mrs. McDonald!) I loved that the idea of someone unassuming and apparently unheroic leaving the security of the life and home he knew to go out on a quest with virtual strangers to reclaim a lost treasure, a lost heritage without any real concept of the dangers and hardships that might lie ahead. Like Bilbo would one day go on to tell his young nephew, “It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

#1 - The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin
Like pretty much every girl, I went from Dr. Seuss and Disney Classics to The Babysitters Club. I knew all their names (Kristy, Maryann, Stacy, Claudia, Dawn, Jessie and Mallory) and what their jobs were in the club. I even knew the order the rotation of narrators went in. I had my favourites (Maryann, with Dawn a close second) and my less-than-favourites (not a fan of Mallory and Jessie - just could not get into their perspectives). I loved that the story lines all dealt with real life issues any kid could face - Maryann having a boyfriend, Stacy coping with her diabetes, Claudia dealing with the death of her grandmother, Maryann and Dawn having their families merge, Kristy's mom remarrying and on it went. It was a great window into lives that might have been, all tied up in the bonds of friendship and teen years. It was awesome, pure and simple.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #29 - Book Series With The Best Covers Overall

When it comes to book covers, the true challenge is for its artist is to combine eye-catching beauty with subtle hints about the book's story. And then repeat the process over and over again as the series goes on. I'm a strong believer that a series should have some visual element that ties all the books together, some common theme to their cover designs that says these books are linked, they belong together - sort of like how siblings share common features, so too should books.

So, without further ado, I give you this week's (alright, so technically last week's - I was sick and I'm sorry!) Top 5 Book Series With The Best Covers Overall.

#5 - Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

Each cover features Mercy, hints either at her being a mechanic or at the story, and showcases her tattoos, each time having them show something different that directly links to the story.

#4 - Jane True series by Nicole Peeler
I love the cartoon quality of these covers - each one showing Jane in a scene from the book. I know animated covers tend to get a lot of criticism - most of it because young readers get the wrong impression - but these covers are nonetheless fantastic in their own right.

#3 - Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
The general consensus for urban fantasy covers is that you can display the heroine or the hero but you can't display both - that is for romance novels. The Kate Daniels covers, however, found a nice loophole to this - no, you can't display a man and a woman on an urban fantasy cover, but you can display the heroine and her love interest provided one of them wasn't them isn't in his human form. Thus you get Kate, a glimpse of a story-relevant place in the back ground, and Curran in his lion form.

#2 - Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk

Every cover shows Allie, sometimes with her tattoos shown, sometimes with her tattoos concealed, sometimes with magic a nimbus around her, sometimes without magic, but always with a weapon in hand and a setting from the story displayed behind her.

#1 - House of Comarré series by Kristen Painter
I love that this series not only went for image, but colour scheme as well. All the books are elaborately framed in black and feature Chyrsabelle in shades of white and silver in various poses, with only one or two elements coloured bright red. Not only do these covers highlight the books' theme of light and dark, they convey the Gothic tone of the story and the historical connotations of its settings. A remarkably well done feat.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

REVIEW: Kristen Painter's Out For Blood

Book: Out for Blood

Author: Kristen Painter

Series: House of Comarré

Publishing stats: October 30th 2012 by Orbit

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb:  After nearly dying at the hands of the Aurelian, Chrysabelle finds new determination to move beyond life as a comarré. That is until the Kubai Mata bring a new task to her doorstep: rescue the child Tatiana has kidnapped, or Mal becomes enemy number one.

First line: Deep in sleep, Chrysabelle curled against a cold, steely form that paralleled her own.

What I liked: Since about five minutes into meeting each other, Chrysabelle and Mal have been dancing around loving each other. Unfortunately, they've also had more obstacles standing in their way than Romeo and Juliet and Tristan and Iseult combined. Chrysabelle is newly arrived in the modern world, innocent in many respect but possessing more bravery, stubbornness and conviction than you'd expect. Mal is a twice-cursed, mad as a hatter vampire who sees himself as a monster undeserving of friendship, let alone love. It was an uphill battle to say the least, but this book finally - FINALLY - brought all that tension and dancing to fruition. He said I love you. She said I love you. Smiles, kisses, and marriage proposals followed swiftly thereafter. I love these moments, these happy little pauses, these streaks of normalcy in a story where everything else is going to hell and resolving into chaos. Yes, she's a genetically engineered geisha-et-warrior. Yes, he's an insane monster with ghost issues. Yes, the world is on the brink of war in more than one sense. But as far as Chrysabelle and Mal together are concerned, she's a girl, he's a boy, and they're in love. What can be more simple than that? 

What I didn’t like: It is my deeply held belief that cliffhangers are the single most frustrating, most diabolical, most straight out cruel literary device to ever hit a page. You spends hours immersed in a story, invested in what's happening to the characters, in what's going on in their world, and then, suddenly, all you're abruptly cut off from what happens next at what must be the most inopportune time imaginable and then expected to wait months - MONTHS - for the story's continuation to release. Drives me bonkers. I mean, okay, it's one thing when you just have to wait a handful of weeks - the first three books of this series, for instance, released at monthly intervals one after the other. It's another thing entirely when the cliffhanger is followed by a, meep, nine month wait until its resolution. So, I think it goes without saying here that Out for Blood has a cliffhanger ending.

Overall: These books tend to be rather heavy on story, alternating between multiple perspectives and storylines. The upside to this approach is that it serves to give readers a fuller and more varied view not only on the characters, but on the various circumstances and philosophies running through the plot. On the downside, readers can get impatient waiting for the narrative to rotate back to a particular storyline. Personally, when I read these books I go skip back and forth through the book to read one particular storyline at a time: first Chrysabelle and Mal, then Tatiana, then Doc and Fiona, then Creek (who I am so not happy with right now), then Lola and so on. It works for me since I'm never really one for the linear path - I almost always read the ending of a book first, for instance - but others will just have to be patient. Its narrative style aside, one of the best features of this book is the constant references it makes to the duality of light and dark. Every character, every couple, every conflict in some way represents this dichotomy. Heck, case and point: Mal, who has dark hair and is an insane, murderous vampire covered in black tattoos, loves and is loved by Chrysabelle, a blond, innocent geisha-like blood donor who bears golden signum on her skin.  Add in all of the romance, intrigue, subterfuge, tragedy and risk and you're left with one heck of an epic ride.

Would I read this author again: Yes - I want the resolution to the cliffhanger, dang it!

My rating: ☺☺☺/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at,,, or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

Top 5 Sundays #28 - Book Series You Wish Would Get a Spin-Off

There is nothing more bittersweet that the ending of a series. Whether the series comprises three books, five books, six, seven or nine books, it doesn't matter, more often than not the ending comes too soon. I mean, sure, the loose ends are tied up, happily ever after is achieved, and hints for the future are sprinkled about but you've also to remember that you've spent month - if not years - following this series, getting to know these characters, being invested in their adventures and then, for good or bad, all of the sudden it's over. The love triangle's resolved, the Big Bad is defeated, the lost artefact is found, the misplaced monarch ascended and yet the first thought that crosses your mind as you read that last sentence on that last page, nine times out of ten, follows along the lines of, "That's it?! That's how this ends?! NO!"

You want to know the great thing about spin-offs? They let you revisit the world and characters you love but with a fresh perspective that brings its own unique opinions and insights to all the things you thought you knew. Like with Karen Marie Moning's Dani O'Malley series or Keri Arthur's Dark Angels series, you get a wonderful combination of fresh and new  with the familiar, with enough glimpses of the former primary characters to make you nostalgic for the original series.

So, without further ado, here are my Top 5 Book Series I Wish Would Get a Spin-Off.

#5 - Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow
I loved this series - Japh and Dante had a unique dynamic and even more unique relationship, not to mention that the whole take on demons and Hell was original and captivating. A while after the last book was published, Ms. Saintcrow released a short story in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance featuring Dante's ward, Liana, as the main character. A whole series elaborating on Liana's story would just be beyond awesome.

#4 - Succubus Diaries series by Jill Myles
At the end of this series, Jackie finds herself in a whole new position with a whole heap of responsibility tossed onto her shoulders. It would be great to have a spin-off for Noah, one that would give us some perspective on the new and improved Jackie while simultaneously gifting our favourite neighbourhood nephilim with his happily ever after.

#3 - Living in Eden series by Michelle Rowen
Let's be honest here, people, did anyone actually read this series and NOT wish for a Lucas spin-off? Sure, he was the Devil and all but the man was such was a sweetie! He basically had a huge neon sign above his head that all but screamed REDEEMABLE. Fingers crossed that some day, somehow, this will come to be!

#2 - The House of Comarré series by Kristen Painter

There's one more book left in this series, due to be published July 30, 2013, and already I have my fingers crossed for a spin-off. I love this world - I love the creatures and the social constructs, love the tone of the writing and the elements of good and evil, dark and light. Most especially of all, I love the characters. Mal and Chrysabelle have been through a lot and they've lost so much - it would be awesome to be able to drop in on them years down the road to see the form of their happily ever after.

#1 - The Shifters series by Rachel Vincent

The thing about this series is that it end literally minutes after the final battle. Sure, we were left with firm ideas of where the characters were heading but it would still be nice to look back in on them five years down the road to see if the destination lived up to the road signs. Given what I've seen on the forums and chats, there's seems to be particular interest in a Kaci spin-off, and who could argue with that? Would be great getting the different point of view, influenced as it would be by a different background and different world view, and seeing how the world and characters have changed given time.

Fingers crossed, people!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #27 - Favourite Halloween Themed Movies

According to Larissa's own post, this week's theme was once again a tie and, honestly, I was rather looking forward to determining my Top 5 Favorite Halloween Costumes on TV or Movies. Unfortunately, that list got as far as the season two episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featuring Buffy as an eighteenth century noblewoman and...yeah, I drew a blank. A complete, total and absolute blank. The only other costumes that came to mind were a half-dozen different renditions of witches. It was not a pleasant brain-wracking, not at all. Let me just add that it's really for the best there was a Plan B here or it would have been either a very lonely or a very repetitive Top 5 list.  On the brighter side of things, there are a lot of Halloween movies floating around out there and every year sees them come out in full swing to fill up network television airtime for the last two weeks of October. So, needless to say, they were all fresh in my head and rearing to go. Unlike a certain other list we will hereafter never refer to again.

So, without further ado, I give you Calliope's Domain's Top 5 Favourite Halloween Themed Movies.

#5 - Halloween (1978)
Now, just to be perfectly clear here, I'm talking the original thriller starring Jamie Lee Curtis. This was one of those movies that wasn't blessed with a huge budget - it was shot in twenty-one days with a budget of only $320, 000, half of which went to pay for the cameras. The actors all had to wear their own clothes because there was no money for costume department and Michael Meyer's mask? The prop department picked up the cheapest mask they could find - which happened to be a Captain Kirk mask - painted it white, reshaped the eye holes and teased out the hair. It's not only a fantastically spooky and creepy serial killer thriller - which, incidentally, went on to spawn several sequels and was two recent remakes - it shows you exactly what a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work can accomplish. What's not to love about that? Oh, and Halloween? It grossed $47 million at US box offices alone.

#4 -  The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Say what you will about Tim Burton, but there's no question that his unique brand of film making lends itself very, very well to Halloween. I mean, heck, have you seen Beetlejuice? Corpse Bride? Alice in Wonderland? Frankenweenie? And way back in the beginning - or at least close enough to count - there was The Nightmare Before Christmas, which, okay, I admit may also qualify as a Christmas movie but seeing as how Jack hails from Halloween Town, I'm running with it. One of the best things about this movie is the stop animation, a film type that's always fascinated me. Basically, think of it like making one very long, very complicated flip book where, instead of using sketches, you're using photographs of puppets. Lots of photographs. Just imagining how long a single scene must take to film boggles the mind. And the results are amazing.

#3 - Hocus Pocus (1993)
So three witches start off the movie by successfully killing a young girl and turning her brother into a cat only to be burned at the stakes days later. Fast forward a century or two and said witches pull a come back tour only this time around they're going for all the children in the town that once made with the pitchforks. The witches are hilarious, you really get a feel for the kids' terror, the plot's it wrong that I watch this movie for the cat? He talks, his human form was Sean Murray, he does sarcasm really well and, oh yeah, he's got that whole noble/protective instinct thing going for him in spades. I love that damn cat.

#2 - The Crow (1994)
Once again, I might be sort of, kind of, technically toying with the concept of a "Halloween-theme" movie. I mean, okay, if you want to be all stone-cold on the fact front, this movie takes place on October 30. But that's almost Halloween - and it features a man resurrected by a crow to seek vengeance for his and his girlfriend's murders a year prior. If that's not Halloween-themed, I don't know what is. Plus, in a creepy case of life imitating art, Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee and star of this little cult gem, actually died in the making of this movie when a prop gun's shot wasn't as harmless as everyone thought it would be. Freaky much?

#1 - Casper (1995)
A house is haunted by three wild, bad mannered ghosts and the ghost of a young boy whose father discovered how to restore ghosts to life. There's a Ghostbusters cameo, a villainess, an impossible romance, and a happy ending - more or less. Sure, there's a deep sadness permeating the whole movie, but there's also a lesson to it, several in fact, and when it comes right down to it, what more could a girl for? I love Casper in all of his incarnations - the tragedy of his life gets me every time, but the happiness and love that eventually fills his just makes me wish his dad could've haunted along with him.

And there you have it, this week's Top 5 and, hey, take note - it's actually Sunday this time!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Book: Magic for a Price

Author: Devon Monk

Series: Allie Beckstrom

Publishing stats: November 6th 2012 by ROC

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb:  For most of her life, Allison Beckstrom has used magic and accepted the heavy price it exacts. But now that all magic is poisoned, it’s no longer just using people—it’s killing them.

With Portland about to descend into chaos, Allie needs to find a way to purify the wells of tainted magic beneath the city. But the only options left to her are grim: attempt to close down magic forever, or follow her father’s plan to set magic into the right hands—even though she’s learned to never trust his word.

Now, Allie will have to make a choice and face the darkness of her own deepest fears, before time runs out for them all…

First line: I never expected cookies at the end of the world.

What I liked: This book is the last in the Allie Beckstrom series and as such led to a lot of loose ends being tied up, what I liked, however, was that it wasn't done all at once or even one after the other. Right up until the very last minute there were questions hanging, questions that were answered in what felt like their own time rather than being rushed to shove it into the last book. Even better, those answers weren't what I was expecting, not by a long shot. This book also served to setup the upcoming spin-off series for secondary characters Shame and Terric in such a way that you have a firm idea of at least some of the plot points the new series will be tackling. Last books are never easy and I've read more than one where it ended and I was left staring at it thinking, "Seriously? That's...that's it? That's the end? You have GOT to be kidding me." This, I'm happy to say, was not one of those books; it was quite the feat and remarkably well done.

What I didn’t like: There was a lot of action going on, a lot of activity, which was by no means a bad thing, however with all of the story and the action going on there were very, very few moments of ordinary to break things up and remind the reader what it was the heroes were fighting to regain. Heck, I don't even think Allie went to Get Mugged for coffee until the very end. Understandable when you're a wanted fugitive, to be sure, but still disappointing that there were none of those happy ordinary moments, especially of the Zay and Allie variety.

Overall: I've waited eight books to see how happily ever after would be achieved for Allie; to say it seemed impossible at times is an understatement. The girl began the series with magic use costing her chunks of her memory and things just went downhill from there. Case and point, she began this book possessed by her dead father (whom she loathed when alive), on the run from a company of magical overseers led by a woman possessed by a pair of evil ghosts (there's a lot of possession going on, okay?) and whose every minute use of magic leaves her literally sick to her stomach or worse. But, hey, the book also starts off with cookies. Lots and lots of cookies - you can't go wrong with a book that starts off with cookies. Somehow, despite all the darkness and the seeming impossibility of happy endings, Ms. Monk manages to trudge her way through and  work everything out for one heck of an ending that's well deserved.

Would I read this author again: Yes - her next series cannot release too soon, especially if it includes more glimpses of Allie and Zay enjoying their happily ever after.

My rating: ☺☺☺/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at,,, or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Book: Kitty Takes A Holiday

Author: Carrie Vaughn

Series: Kitty Norville

Publishing stats: April 1st 2007 by Grand Central Publishing

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb:  After getting caught turning wolf on national television, Kitty retreats to a mountain cabin to recover and write her memoirs. But this is Kitty, so trouble is never far behind, and instead of Walden Pond, she gets Evil Dead. When werewolf hunter Cormac shows up with an injured Ben O'Farrell, Kitty's lawyer, slung over his shoulder, and a wolf-like creature with glowing red eyes starts sniffing around the cabin, Kitty wonders if any of them will get out of these woods alive...

First line: She runs for the joy of it, because she can, her strides stretching to cover a dozen feet every time she leaps.

What I liked: I really loved how Kitty's emotional turmoil was captured in writing. She had a rough time of it in the book before this and seeing her struggle through the emotions those events stirred up in her was a journey and adventure all its own. I especially liked seeing her interactions with the rival supernatural-based talk show host; it provided a nice sort of foil seeing how her views on the rival show changed with her views of herself.

What I didn’t like: The entire Cormac storyline. I felt that, with the past books, something was building on that front but with a few well placed swipes I feel as though that entire possibility came toppling down which makes me feel cheated. What's more, by the end of the book Cormac was taken out of play in more than one sense leaving me starring at the book and screaming, "How could you DO that?!" I love Cormac as a character and I saw a lot of potential in him - he provides a great contrast to Kitty in several ways - but now the writing's on the wall and all my hopes for him are pretty much rubble. Bright side, I'll hopefully get to rebuild them over coming books in new designs and directions.

Overall: One of the things I love most about this series is being able to watch (so to speak) Kitty grow and change over each book. In the first book, Kitty is a definite submissive, abused in several senses by her pack's alpha and whose only protection and affection comes from her best friend  and fellow wolf, TJ. By this book - third in the series - Kitty has left the pack and the abuse behind, developed a successful and prospering radio show and been out as a werewolf to the public with the video footage to back it up. This books really serves to show the final steps Kitty takes from who she was at the beginning of the first book to who she will be in coming books. The strength, courage and compassion she's been hinted to possess in the past comes to full flourish within these pages and it is truly a delight to see. At the same time, you get a very stark view of how the world - and its people - beyond Kitty's life
are adjusting to the realization that vampires and werewolves aren't just the stuff of story books.

Would I read this author again: Yes - the train wreck of the Cormac storyline aside, I still want to see how the rest of this story progresses and grows in coming books, to say nothing of its characters.

My rating: /5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at,,, or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

Top 5 Sundays #26 - Most Underrated Book Series

So, this week there was a choice on the topic front due to tied poll: either Favourite Book in a Long-Running Series or Most Underrated Book Series. I've chosen to go with the latter. Long-running series are, for the most part, currently ongoing and so my answer on the favourite book front is rather fluid and tends to change depending on each new release. At least with Most Underrated Book Series I can provide more stable answers.

So, without further ado, I present Calliope's Domain Top 5 Most Underrated Book Series.

#5 - Alexandra Sabian series by Jeannie Holmes
This series has it all; a complicated romance, family secrets, a dark, realistic take on crime and, of course, vampires. It's written in such a way that there's something of a duality between cold facts of the official investigation and the unpredictable emotions of the characters. The fact that the third person narrative tends to bounce between the heroine, Alexandra Sabian, the hero, Varik Baudelaire, the villain du jour, whoever he or she might be, and a myriad of other characters, rounds out the stories in a way a single or dual narrative wouldn't be capable of.

#4 - Shades of Fury series by Kasey Mackenzie 
I am a huge fan of mythology and this series has them all - literally. Where else can you read about a Fury (of Greek Mythology) reuniting with her Anubian Warhound ex (of Egyptian lore) to go up against brainwashed sidhe clones (drawn from Celtic legend). And that's just one scene of the first book.

#3 - Metawars series by Kelly Meding
Superheroes lose their powers without explanation as children only to regain them all of the sudden fifteen years later. As the author herself describe the series, it "follows a group of adult superheroes who are dealing with malfunctioning powers, a world that hates them, and a lot of romantic complications." Now, really, be honest - what's not to love about that? In my opinion, books featuring legitimate superheroes - complete with costumes and code names - are far to few in this world.

#2 - Monère: Children of the Moon series by Sunny

I love how this series is written - each book packs in so much more action and activity, so many more twists and turns than you'd expect given the back cover copy and page count. The emotion, however, that's described - the relationships and turmoil that arise between Mona Lisa and her men - is truly what gives these books their value. I cannot wait for the next book and hope to all the gods that it won't be too much longer!

#1 - Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk 
Author Devon Monk puts a whole new spin on the idea of magic users with this series and about a dozen other elements of urban fantasy. Set in Portland, it follows a young woman as she learns that the world, magic and people she thought she knew are truly nothing like she imagined - including herself. The last book is set to release in just one more week but, because Fate can't be cruel all the time, next year is set to see a couple of the secondary characters get their moment to shine in the driving seats.

And there you have it, ladies and gents, this week's Top 5. Be sure to check out Larissa's own list over at Larissa's Bookish Life. Until next week, my loves!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #25 - Books I Would Love to Get Signed by the Author!

This week's Top 5 theme is books I would love to get signed by the author. I think it goes without saying that I wouldn't turn down an author's offer to sign one of their books - what sort of crazy person would? However, I also think it goes without saying (but I'm going to say it anyway) that there are some books that, for one reason or another, have come to mean something more to you than the words on their pages. These are the books that have gotten themselves tangled up in your emotions, in your memories, in your affections. These are the books that you turn to for comfort not only because of their stories and familiarity, but because they've come to be associated with so much more. Having the author sign these books...well, it's almost like a validation, like a recognition of all that book has come to mean to you. With the creator's name scrawled within, it's like the book's personal importance to you has been given a stamp of approval.

And what's not to love about that?

So, without further ado, I present this week's (belated) Top 5 Books I Would Love to Get Signed by the Author! Enjoy.

#5 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Okay, be honest, what person growing up with Harry Potter wouldn't sell their little brother whole for J.K. Rowling's name scrawled by the lady herself inside their copy of any one of the Harry Potter books? The last one, the first one, the fifth one - I wouldn't care which, just so long as whichever one it was got to come home with me at the end of the day. Hell, I might even toss in my sister just for the heck of it.

#4 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
What can I say? My favourite contemporary authors might all be tied to the vamps, weres, witches, demons and magic filling their stories but when it comes to the classics, it's Pride and Prejudice all the way. I blame Mr. Darcy - man knows how to bounce back from a really botched proposal like nobody else. Unfortunately, considering that there's a finite number of signed copies in existence (at least until the zombie apocalypse) getting one of these puppies really would require I resort to human trafficking.

#3 - Witches of Eileanan by Kate Forsyth
For my thirteenth birthday, one of my friends gave me a gift card for Chapters. I remember going with my grandfather to pick out the book and being worried that I was taking to long and boring my poor grandpa. I ended up taking home Witches of Eileanan - mostly because of the awesome cover (it has a dragon - what's not cool about that?) - and my library was begun. Getting this book signed would be just another way of highlighting the significance it holds for me.

#2 - The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
Now, truth be told, I started reading the Vampire Chronicles because of the film adaptation of Queen of the Damned and, as is usually the case, quickly discovered the books to be better. The Vampire Lestat, though the second book in the series, holds particular importance being as its the first book where Lestat narrates. Having Anne Rice sign any one of her books would be amazing - like receiving a personal letter from Johnny Depp amazing - but having her sign the copy I actually read - the copy I lost myself in over and over again - that would just be phenomenal.

#1 - The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop
I adore this series. If this series was a person, I would marry it. I own a lot of books - hundreds, no question - but of them all the books in this series are hands down the ones most read. And reread. Whatever mood I'm feeling, I can find a passage, a scene, a chapter - or ten - in these books to suit. I own - and have read - everything that Anne Bishop has ever written but these series - and specifically these three books - they're my literary equivalent to comfort food. Getting them signed...that would just floor me.

And there you have it! Until next week, boils and ghouls, I bid you adieu!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #24 - Series or Author That Make You Forget/Ignore Your TBR!

This week's topic on Top 5 Sundays are those series and authors I just can't wait for and absolutely, positively MUST read just as soon as I can, to hell with what other books might be waiting! This is probably something any bibliophile can relate to - heck, anyone who has ever waited in line for admittance to a night club can relate. Sometimes, no matter how good you look, someone (or something) else for one reason or another simply jumps ahead.

Here's my Top 5 and the reasons why; hope you enjoy!

#5 - MetaWars series by Kelly Meding
The interesting thing about this series is that it reads like a comic book. The plot is simple: a group of young adults suddenly have their former powers return to them after they mysteriously vanished fifteen years earlier and decide to band together to rebuild the tarnished reputation superheroes have incurred since the aftermath of the last great hero/villain super match. What really distinguishes these books, however, are two things. Firstly, the stories actually bother to deal with the collateral damage incited by superheroes doing battle with the villains in the middle of major city centres. Secondly, the characters are amazingly well written with complex histories, distinct personalities and engaging dynamics. It's like The Justice League meets The Middleman and too good to wait any longer than absolutely necessary!

#4 - Monère: Children of the Moon series by Sunny
These books are not that long when it comes to the number of pages between their covers. When it comes to the plot, however, these books are jammed packed, using every word, every scene for all it is worth and just when you think everything's over, that's when the story flips. Take the first book; just when you think everything's settled, a car accident orphans Mona Lisa's brother. Among the book's other points: Mona Lisa learns she's only half human and, oh yeah, a Queen, falls in love, finds and meets her birth mother, acquires two  indentured servants, is introduced to a high court, meets the prince of Hell, loses her lover, gets kidnapped, falls in love again, escapes her kidnappers, exposes another Queen's treachery, and regains her lover. And that's only the first half of the book. Now imagine five books just as bursting with activity. Yup. It's like that.

#3 - Undead/Betsy Taylor series by MaryJanice Davidson
I have never managed to get through one of these books without laughing. Betsy is a self-absorbed, shoe-obsessed air head who somehow landed  herself the job of vampire queen. Needless to say, hilarity ensues. Among my favourite adventures to date are Betsy's trip through time with her Satan spawned sister and unraveling the mystery of her zombified friend while coping with a total lack of help from her visiting future self. Wild times, man, wild times.

#2 - Charley Davidson series by  Darlynda Jones
Another hilarious narrative but in a totally different manner. There's something about Charley's tone and thoughts that reminds me of my own making for a narration I find beyond easy to relate to. Toss in ghosts, demons and one hell of a hunky son of Satan and the only bad thing about this series is the unbelieveably torturous wait between book releases.

#1 - Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
This series has everything - a sarcastic, crazy heroine whose powerful and kickass but has a heart, a domineering, control-freak alpha whose not afraid to let his devotion show, an extend cast of developed and distinct secondary characters, compelling and intricate mysteries that draw on mythologies and history from around the world and an overreaching story plot that progresses and deepens with each book. Add in the fast paced and engaging writing and, really, there's no question why these books jump the line.