Thursday, October 6, 2016

Vampiric Update

Currently, in addition to several smaller posts, I am working on two large blog projects:

1) the conclusion to my piece on Carmilla and,

2) a not-so-brief consideration of Varney the Vampire.


Regarding the first, the conclusion has been delayed because I have come across a lot more source material; both primary and secondary sources. I need some time to ponder all this.

In addition, I am conflicted as to how I should present this new information; as a supplement or addendum to the first part or simply incorporate it into the first part and reissue it in its entirety. I am leaning toward the later option.

Regarding the second, this massive, 200+ chapter, penny-dreadful brings vampire literature up to the late 1840s. In addition to my analysis and comments on this work, I am returning to an old favorite exercise of mine of preparing a twitter summary of the book; one tweet-sized summation for each chapter. It will be available as a free kindle download when the article is posted.


I had not intended to devote so much time and digital ink to nineteenth-century vampire fiction. I must say, however, that I am enjoying the experience.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Books Jonelle Made Me Read III – THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT.

Series Introduction
In this occasional series, I will be discussing books that a teenage girl (now a thirteen-year-old), Jonelle, instructed me to read. And when I say "instructed me to read," of course I mean "commanded me to read." For those of you who don't know her, she is a highly intelligent, sweet, precocious and fairly bossy young lady.
A large part of the reason why I read this book, and the other works that will be discussed in this blog series, is that I want to understand how teenagers think. These posts will not be a review of the book per se as much as an exploration of my random thoughts on the book.
How did I get myself into this?

"Are we stealing that car"? the Gasman asked. "Let's."
I frowned. "No, we are thinking about borrowing it." On the one hand, I really didn't want to become a teenage criminal. On the other hand, every minute that ticked by was another minute closer to Angel's being the number one dissection lesson for a bunch or rabid geneticists.
"That's like Grand Theft Auto," the Gasman said helpfully. " I saw it on TV. It's popular with kids."
"Better 'borrow' it soon," advised Iggy. "I hear a chopper."
I made an executive decision. And yeah, I know -- my karmas' going to come back and get me, too.
In movies, people always "borrow" cars by yanking some wires out from under the dash and connecting them. But the real way it works involves a screwdriver and the starter thingy, under the hood. My personal ethics prevent me from giving you more information. That'd be just what I need a rash of car thefts across America committed by dedicated readers.
I don't think so.
Anyway, I did the engine thing while Iggy sat in the driver's seat, pressing the gas. The motor grumbled into life, I slammed the hood, and we jumped into the van.
My heart was pounding at about two hundred beats a minute.
Then I just stared at the controls.
"Oh, my God," said Fang. "None of us has ever driven."
It wasn't like him to have missed this important detail.
"I've seen people drive on TV," I said, trying to sound confident. "How hard could it be?" I knew about the whole neutral, park, drive thing, so I put it into D.
"Okay, guys," I said. "Here goes nothing."
Books Jonelle Made Me Read
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (Book 1) by James Patterson
Time now to jump back into the mind of a young teenage girl and explore its inner workings...[i]
The Angel Experiment is the first part in nine-part series (ennealogy), Maximum Ride by well-known and very successful author, James Patterson.
This book, the fifth that I was told to read, is the fourth I actually read, and the third I will blog about...[ii]
While trying to work out what I was going to discuss in this post, I sought out Jonelle's thoughts on the book as per usual. Imagine my surprise when she told me that she hasn't actually read it yet! Only part of it! What! It seems that a friend had recommended it to her. She got a copy, began to read it and stopped due to school commitments.
Well, whatever the back-story, I am very glad she suggested The Angel Experiment to me.
Briefly, this story concerns a group of teens who, by means of advanced and mysterious science, are given wings and the skill to fly really well!
While on the run from their creators/captors, they group goes through danger and adventures trying to be free. They uncover the fact that the man they truly believed was their mentor was actually their captor! This revelation brought emotional turmoil and shattered confidence which was more a threat to the teens safety than any number of goons or thugs.
Several common themes in this sub-genre of YA novels are present. These themes have appeared regularly in the works I have been tasked with reading.
-A group of kids, who are outcasts, have to band together and look after each other. There is no one else to help them. Adults cannot help or do not understand the nature and/or the complexity of the problems so also cannot be called upon.
-Even though they are forced into grown-up situations and have to come up with grown-up solutions, they are still kids.
-The kids find themselves, over and over, at the non-existent mercy of cruel and capricious adults who absolutely cannot be trusted. In fact, the only adult figure that is seen in any kind of a positive, supporting, and compassionate light is a veterinarian who is enlisted to help mend one of the children's injured wing.
Add to all the above, a secret organization conducting experiments on hapless children; with the goal of creating super soldiers!
Coupled with the themes, I liked the fast-paced and action-oriented short chapters; revealing the back story in bits as the story progressed added to the suspense and overall enjoyment of the tale.
I really enjoyed Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (Book 1) by James Patterson. I think I might even continue reading this series on my own.
Thanks, Jonelle.
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[i] A scary way to begin this essay to be sure. Not inaccurate, but a little unsettling, nevertheless. [ii] Don't ask. It's a long story. I will explain another time.